News emerged on Monday that the Gautrain Management Agency 2017/18 annual report revealed that Gauteng provincial taxpayers were paying R100 million a month, or R1.6 billion a year, to subsidise the running of the Gautrain. Photo: Karen Sandison/African News Agency (ANA)

JOHANNESBURG – The Congress of South Africa Trade Union (Cosatu) in Gauteng said on Tuesday that it was dismayed by the news that the provincial department of transport would be subsidising Gautrain operating expenses with a whopping R1.6 billion this year. 

News emerged on Monday that the Gautrain Management Agency 2017/18 annual report revealed that Gauteng provincial taxpayers were paying R100 million a month, or R1.6 billion a year, to subsidise the running of the Gautrain as the number of passengers has dropped over the past two years.

The provincial grant will help cover operating and maintenance expenses and the private sector portion of the capital costs until the number of passengers is sufficient for fares to meet the operating costs. 

In a statement, Cosatu Gauteng secretary Dumisani Dakile said this confirmed their standing argument and view that government did not care about safer public transport for the working-class, but prioritised transport for the elites.

Dakile said the federation in Gauteng has also observed that a number of roads passing through working-class communities were not in good condition, saying that one such road was R511 or William Nicol that passes through Diepsloot informal settlement. 

"The reconstruction of this road was supposed to have been finished in November 2016, and two years down the line the road is not finished and contractors have not been on site since early 2017. While this is happening the MEC of Transport has the audacity to announce that Gautrain will be subsidised with such a vast amount of money," Dakile said.

"The working class is still burdened by the user-payer system, the e-tolls, to which the government does not have any solution, despite it being a thorny issue for the majority of citizens. The e-tolls were one of the factors that cost the ANC support during the 2016 local government elections. It is worrying to see how tone deaf the Gauteng MEC for Transport and the entire government is in this matter."

Dakile said that Cosatu in Gauteng will seek an audience with Premier David Makhura and provincial MEC for transport Ishmael Vadi to raise their concerns.

African News Agency (ANA)