The Gautrain enters the Rosebank Station on its way to Park Station, Joburg.

The Gautrain’s costs have gone up about R2 billion in less than a month to more than R30bn – and it’s still months from completion.

The escalating costs were revealed in the Gautrain Management Agency’s 19th Quarterly Progress Report for the period April to June 2011, as MEC for Transport Ismail Vadi announced that the next phase of the Gautrain will open on Tuesday.

From August 2, commuters will be able to catch the Gautrain from the Rosebank station to Pretoria and to OR Tambo International Airport.

But the final leg of the project – from Rosebank to the Joburg CBD – is not expected to open for several months because of water seepage problems.

Whether the delays in the launch of the full service because of the water problems are the cause of the escalating costs is not known, but the progress report for the period April to June 2011 gives details about the finances of the project and says the province and concessionaire are in dispute over the numerous delays in the completion of the project.

The GMA report gives the Gautrain’s total cost as R30.462bn. This is made up of R26.23bn for construction and commissioning, and another R4.231bn for the GMA, land, bidding and support costs.

Of that R30.462bn, a total of R27.298bn comes from the government, R3.16bn from private funding and another R2 million is “other private funding”.

This means the total cost has gone up about R2bn in less than a month.

The Star reported earlier this week that an engineer’s plan to sort out the water tunnel problems between Park station and Rosebank could take 10 months and cost R100m to fix.

Until the service from Park station in the CBD to Rosebank is running, a bus service from Park station will be provided from the CBD to Rosebank.

On Thursday, Vadi encouraged Joburgers to visit the stations and buy tickets. All stations will be open to the public from Friday.

As of Tuesday, the trains and buses will run from 5.30am to 9pm.

Vadi said the final leg, from Rosebank to the Joburg CBD, was not expected to open for months. “Water ingress in the Rosebank to Park station tunnel is a material issue for the certification of the entire Gautrain system,” he said.

The Bombela contractors will now spend the next few months drilling small holes into the tunnel floor and injecting grouting into the tunnel rocks, which is expected to reduce the water seepage.

Vadi said this was a slow process and predicting a completion date was difficult. It was hoped the link would open by the end of the year.

The report makes it clear that the company in charge of building and operating the train knew there would be a delay in opening the second phase of the project.

“The contractual date for OCD2 (the Joburg to Pretoria link) is March 27, 2011. It was clear that this date could not be achieved. Bombela had proposed the new OCD2 date to be June 27, 2011. There are, however, unresolved matters, such as the excessive water ingress into the tunnels, which have delayed this date,” the report states.

 

The report says the project is 99.96 percent complete. It was supposed to have been 100 percent complete by the end of March 2011.

“Province remains very concerned that the concessionaire may delay the completion of the project further as a result of its refusal to adequately address the water ingress into the tunnels, which does not meet the levels allowed in the specification.”

The document lists other structural problems. These are called “major snags” and include defects on the parking deck at Marlboro station, where “remedial work done seems to be ineffective”, the structure is cracking and water leaking through; water damage at Rhodesfield station, and the quality of concrete work at the Modderfontein station platform.

The document says pressure on staff to complete work “has often resulted in substandard work”.

DA MPL Jack Bloom said he was worried by the continually escalating costs of the project.

“It’s disturbing that the cost appears to have escalated way beyond what we were originally promised. We need to know exactly how much government money still has to be paid into this project.” - The Star