Pretoria - Road disruptions around the city will continue into the new year - almost a year after the original deadline for completion was set at April this year.
Tshwane mayoral spokesman Blessing Manale said buses would be on the routes from the end of November - for test drives, emergency simulations and passenger familiarisation - but full passenger services were expected at the end of January.
These dates may still change.
This means frustrated motorists will have to continue battling traffic moving at a snail’s pace through major intersections, into the busy festive period.
Some relief will only come in the new year when the service is fully operational. Even then, some roads will be closed to traffic and only pedestrians will be allowed.
Manale said the city was considering fast-tracking measures such as penalties to contractors, additional capacity, increased working hours, better road management and traffic diversions to increase efficiency on the construction teams.
Mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa remained understanding about the “challenges facing the project, but had strongly urged the project team and his administration to double their efforts in ensuring there were no further delays”, he said.
The mayor urged the teams to apply best-practice lessons gained from the A Re Yeng project on other initiatives scheduled for the next three to five years.
Manale said the city would continue to engage stakeholders to minimise the impact of the delays on their business, bus and taxi routes, current informal trading sites and private car users.
“We extend apologies for the inconvenience.”
The middle lanes reserved for A Re Yeng buses will remain closed to traffic even when the construction is completed, while the mixed traffic lanes will be reopened.
The inception phase of A Re Yeng - a 7.2km route through Sunnyside from the intersection of Nana Sita and Paul Kruger streets to Hatfield, connecting with the Gautrain Station in Hatfield - is at 88 percent completion.
However, heavy rainfall in February and March exacerbated initial delays. Construction of the stations could not commence without the completed roadways, including barriers and platforms, Manale said.
“The discovery of heritage artefacts contributed to the delays,” he added.
“Another factor is the National Union of Metal Workers of SA strike which is delaying the delivery of steel and other material.”
Bukeka Mahlutshana, chief executive of A Re Yeng operating company Tshwane Rapid Transit, said all 30 buses to be used in the inception phase had come off the production line.
The 48 trainee drivers of A Re Yeng completed their three-month training in June, including rigorous physical driving competence, emergency procedures, induction, customer care and how to operate the buses.
They were also taught how to deliver a quality bus service and comply with their service contracts. They will still undergo training on automated fare collection and the advanced public transport management system.
Work still outstanding in the CBD includes the planting of shrubs and hard landscaping as well as surfacing and road marking of bus lanes.