Gautrain on track, says Gauteng govt

Noting the heightened public interest in the Gautrain Rapid Rail Link project, the Gauteng government stated “unambiguously” on Thursday that the project is still on track.

Addressing the media in Johannesburg, provincial minister for finance and economic affairs Paul Mashatile and provincial minister for transport and public works Ignatius Jacobs said they remain confident that they will get Cabinet approval for the Gautrain in December.

Mashatile said the Gauteng government is at present negotiating financial closure with the preferred bidders, and the project’s construction will start early next year.

“We are committed to meeting the initial deadline of the 54-month construction period,” Mashatile said. “I have full confidence that the Gautrain project has been well researched and planned.
There have been numerous feasibility studies, which have been regularly updated.”

He added that from the outset, the project has been subjected to independent scrutiny by the National Treasury’s private-public partnership unit and at each phase in the process, necessary approvals have been obtained.

Mashatile noted that the National Treasury’s support was again affirmed by Minister of Finance Trevor Manuel when he made his Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement a few weeks ago.

“The key stakeholders, I can tell you, are going ahead with the Gautrain project,” he said.

Asked whether there might be any increase in the project’s R20-billion current cost, Mashatile said the issue of cost has been dealt with as set by the National Treasury limits.

“We are currently finalising financial closure to determine the total cost of the project and once the document has been signed, the bidder cannot come back and say we need more funds. We don’t expect any surprises in the cost of the project in December or in the near future,” Mashatile said.

Meanwhile, Jacobs added that the Gautrain project will be 50% funded by the Gauteng government and 50% by the national government.

Addressing Parliament’s transport portfolio committee’s expected recommendations, Mashatile said it is very important that the committee study the project very carefully before writing a report.

“As the Gauteng government, we welcome the debate in Parliament on the Gautrain project and the concerns raised will be noted going ahead. I don’t think people should take a decision on whether the project should go ahead or not—just after one presentation,” Mashatile said.—I-Net Bridge

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