Gautrain passengers left high and dry by power failure

Hundreds of Gautrain passengers have been left stranded at Midrand station following a power failure.

Gautrain management announced at 7am this morning that there will be no trains between Midrand and Park Stations and no trains from Sandton to OR Tambo.

It is unacceptable that commuters using the Gautrain were only informed 20 minutes after the power failure that there would be a limited Gautrain service.

Only one shuttle service was offered from Midrand to Sandton.

Commuters have also been asked to make alternate arrangements to get work and as yet no timeline has been given as to when the Gautrain will be fully operational again.

Not only have commuters been inconvenienced but they are also arriving late to work which has a negative impact on the economy.

Many commuters use the Gautrain as it is more reliable than Metrorail.

I will be tabling follow up questions to the MEC for Roads and Transport, Jacob Mamabolo to ascertain exactly what the reason is for today’s power outage, why the Gautrain does not have a backup power supply and why commuters were not informed immediately that the Gautrain would be operating on a limited service.

We urge the Gautrain management to communicate timeously with passengers when such incidents occur, so that they are able to then make a decision on how they will be travelling to their different destinations.

DA calls for action to be taken against Gautrain Executive Communication Manager Barbara Jensen

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng calls on the Gautrain Management Agency to take a decisive action against its Executive Manager for Communications, Barbara Jensen for her irresponsible utterances in the public space.

This follows the cutting of the water supply by the City of Joburg at the Gautrain Station in Sandton due to a non-payment of R8 million owed by the landlord for water, refuse and property rates.

Jensen has been irresponsible in her comments about the issue.

Instead of dealing with their landlord to ensure that they pay the money owed to the City of Joburg she continues to play a blame game.

Jansen is quoted in the media criticizing the City of Joburg:

“I just think that it is very unfair of the city trying to keep a law-abiding, utility paying third party at ransom,”

Cutting off water to an innocent service paying third party like Gautrain is not a way to solve legal matters and does not do the image of Joburg as a world-class African city any good,”

She insists that Gautrain does not owe any money to the City of Joburg and that the battle is between the landlord and City of Joburg, that it has nothing to do with Gautrain.

This matter does involve Gautrain as it pays the landlord for the use of their land. Gautrain could have engaged with their landlord to ensure that they pay for their utilities. They could even enter into an arrangement with the Council to pay off the debt and deduct the amounts from the rent they pay to Cedar Park Properties.

Jansen must not be allowed to drag the City of Joburg’s image through the mud as the City is doing its best to ensure that they collect all debts owed to them to be able to render better services to Johannesburg residents. The Gautrain Management Authority, like any responsible government entity, should support efforts to ensure governments are sustainable.

DA to push for better Gautrain subsidy deal

The current Gautrain subsidy is the largest single item of expenditure in the budget of the Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport, making up roughly 35% of its budget for the past financial year.

The recent announcement of the expansion plans for the Gautrain have focussed attention on the possibility that this high subsidy will be perpetuated should a new contract be signed.

This contribution makes it possible to subsidise each passenger trip by around R60, according to the Auditor General’s estimation.

Virtually all public transport systems worldwide are subsidised, but this is an unusually high proportion, to the extent that the Competition Commission will be looking into the matter in its current investigation into public transport in South Africa.

If the annual subsidy for Gautrain maintains a level of between R2 billion and R3 billion for the duration of the concession, the taxpayer would, over and above the R30 billion construction price tag, have paid well over R50 billion for this service.

The Gautrain is an efficient and extremely well-run public transport mode, but unaffordable for many residents of the Province.

The root of the problem lies in the contract that the Province signed initially with the consortium of concessionaries; the subsidy contains a large component known as the ridership guarantee, which effectively protects the concessionaries against ridership figures falling below a threshold determined before the system started operating.

The demand cycle of Gautrain unfortunately depends entirely on the two daily peak passenger periods, with low demand in between. The current system is unlikely to breach the key ridership threshold and the guarantee will almost certainly continue to operate for the expanded network envisaged.

The way out of this dilemma will be, whenever new contracts are signed, not to repeat the mistake of being dazzled by passenger projections, but to make a realistic assessment of ridership. To simply let the current subsidy continue without reanalysing the framework and doing the feasibility groundwork would be equivalent to perpetuating a debt trap for Gauteng taxpayers.

DA Gauteng debates Motion on Investment in Public Transport


The following speeches were delivered in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature today by DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Transport, Dr Neil Campbell MPL and DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Social Development, Justus de Goede MPL, during a debate on Gauteng’s public transport investment.

Dr Neil Campbell MPL

“ANC motion far removed from the reality of commuters”

• The current bus subsidy programme is a disaster, with commuters and bus companies both unhappy. Busses are old, unreliable, and unpunctual, and routes are often not serviced;
• The Gautrain is unaffordable to most commuters, it has cost far more than was originally calculated and continues to drain the provincial treasury via subsidies;
• The freight–hubs which were to serve Gauteng are currently only draining the economy; and
• Gauteng’s Driver Licence Testing Centres are inefficient and plagued with many corrupt officials. Many road users’ service delivery complaints have gone unheard.

The full speech can be obtained here.

Justus de Goede MPL

“Public transport in Gauteng requires thorough planning and coordination to be a success”

• A lack of coordination in public transport planning between the different spheres of government in the province is crippling growth and development in the sector;
• Public-private partnerships must be sought in order to ensure the sustainability of public transport in the province;
• The creation of the Gauteng Transport Authority, which aimed to streamline uncoordinated institutional structures, was announced two years ago, but there has been virtual silence since due to the lack of political will; and
• Two recent surveys paint a very bleak picture of public perceptions of the transport system and found that commuters are actually leaving the public transport network, and have lost confidence in it.

The full speech can be obtained here.

Another Billion Spent On The Gautrain

Gautrain Management Agency

The Gautrain Management Agency (GMA) together with the Gauteng Treasury and Department of Roads and Transport has paid out R980 million to Bombardier, the Gautrain operating company in an out of court settlement.

This information was recently revealed to the Gauteng Portfolio Committee on Roads and Transport by Gauteng Roads and Transport MEC Ismail Vadi.

The settlement is in respect of all outstanding matters relating to phase one of the Gautrain project.

MEC Vadi stated that he felt that any expansion of the Gautrain would be better managed because of lessons learned during Gautrain phase one.

It is obvious that contracts were not up to scratch from government’s side which favoured Bombardier in these negotiations.

This pushes the direct cost of phase one well over the R30 billion mark and does not include the ongoing annual ridership guarantees which run well in excess of R1.5 billion presently, and will not reduce significantly over time, if ever.

The expansion of the Gautrain route could be beneficial to the province but it is essential that tight monitoring of costs and water-tight contracts protecting government and citizens are in place.

Media Enquiries:

Neil Campbell MPL

DA Gauteng Spokesperon for Roads and Transport

082 387 2540

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MEC’s Budget Fails To Tackle Gauteng’s Problems

Well-connected political elite continue to prosper at detriment of ordinary citizens

Gauteng Finance MEC, Barbara Creecy’s 2017/18 budget is out of tune with the tough economic climate faced by millions of Gauteng’s residents – and will continue to perpetuate a system where the well-connected political elite will continue to prosper at the detriment of ordinary citizens.

MEC Creecy indicated that Gauteng’s share tax income has diminished due to constraints placed on National Treasury – but instead of working smart with less, no tangible cost containment measures have been put in place to curb exorbitant expenditure on travel, catering, advertising and events, despite the statements in her speech.

The much publicised open tender system has not been rolled out effectively enough to combat tender fraud. Only R9.3billion spread across 38 tenders have undergone the open tender system – the majority remain behind closed doors, and this is nearly three years after the launch!

Administration needs to do more with less

While the ring-fencing of R12.5 billion for infrastructure projects is welcome, it must be noted that there has been a drastic cut to the infrastructure budget for roads. This at a time when the first phase of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project has reached the end of its lifespan, and no inclusive transport plans have been made available other than the announcement to expand the Gautrain. The MEC’s silence on e-Tolls is telling after the Premier washed his hands of the issue in his State of the Province Address.

In the previous financial year, the ANC-led administration put aside R100 million rand to bolster its election support through what it labelled “voter education”. Given the recent Life Esidimeni debacle, it is disheartening that the same emphasis could not be placed on ring-fencing funds to assist mentally ill patients.

While the increased funding to Health and Education is most welcome, it arises from the need to pay last year’s bills with this year’s money however this money could have been used to address current challenges. Service providers must be paid on-time, in line with legislation and new schools must be completed to spec, within budget and on time.

MEC Creecy spoke about the increased need for cooperation between the private and public sector, yet she down plays the fact that the ANC, under President Jacob Zuma is slowly eroding private property rights – a point that will deter investment.

This administration needs to do more with less for the people of Gauteng, but until those who operate behind the scenes – who manipulate tenders, inflate costs and collude are brought under control, residents of the province will not benefit from this budget.



Media Enquiries:

Adriana Randall MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC on Finance

060 556 4342


Ashor Sarupen

DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Finance

060 558 8303

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Rail Regulator Must Investigate Gauteng Rail Safety Standards

Metrorail Head-on Collision

The head-on collision by two Metrorail trains yesterday in Pretoria raises serious concerns about rail commuter safety in Gauteng.

This is the second incident in a week after a Gautrain carriage derailed between Hatfield and Pretoria last week.

The DA calls on the Rail Safety Regulator to expedite its investigations into these two matters so that the root causes can be addressed without delay.

Rail Safety Regulator

The Rail Safety Regulator must institute an investigation into Metrorail signalling systems as well as train driver fitness which could possibly be the cause for yesterday’s accident.

The DA is of the opinion that the problem is much wider, and that yesterday’s accident should not be treated as an isolated incident.

The safety of Gauteng commuters must be paramount in the operations of public transport as it is the main mode of transportation for those who make up the bulk of the province’s economy.




Media enquiries:

Fred Nel MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Roads and Transport

083 263 2427

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Gautrain Expansion Plans Continue To Exclude Majority Of Gauteng’s Commuters

Gauteng Legislature Roads and Transport Committee

Disclosures in the Gauteng Legislature Roads and Transport committee regarding the expansion of the Gautrain should be fully investigated as a matter of urgency.

The current, yet to be released, feasibility study will conclude that expansion is feasible given sufficient funds.

In the 2015/16 financial year the Gautrain enjoyed a subsidy of R1.56 billion. This is set to rise to R1.8 billion this year and consumes a sizeable portion of the Department’s R6.4 billion budget.

Whilst it is important to plan for the future transport needs of South Africa’s most populated province, it must be done in the most cost effective way possible while catering for the greatest number of passengers.

Gautrain fares are priced at too high a premium over PRASA rates, and cater for the more affluent, not for the majority of the provinces commuters.

Gautrain Management Agency

Auditor General staff criticised the Gautrain’s ridership contract, highlighting that it was poorly negotiated and stating that “even if the Gautrain was running 24/7/365 at full capacity the ridership guarantee would be payable”. This is strong criticism of the Department and its legal advisors.

Additionally, the underground network has only one tunnel which severely limits the number of train sets. The short-sighted approach of the designers, probably dictated by a huge escalation in construction costs from the original figure of R6-7 billion to over R32 billion, deserve to be criticised.

The Gautrain Management Agency is now hinting that only they can do extensions to the rail network as PRASA is still reeling from controversial purchase of locomotives which were too high for the overhead power lines.

The much needed rail links to the north-west of Johannesburg and Mamelodi to Naledi must enjoy priority

However, this cannot be done with an ailing fiscus. It cannot be resolved with the proposed Gautrain expansion plan, as high fares will continue to isolate the majority of commuters.

The DA will continue to monitor this issue to ensure that affordable transport services are prioritised over empire building exercises.


Media enquiries:

Dr Neil Campbell MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Roads and Transport

082 387 2540

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DA Debates 2016/17 Gauteng Department Of Roads And Transport Budget

Speech by: Neil Campbell MPL

“Roads and Transport budget will not get Gauteng moving”

  • Despite some departmental successes in the past year this budget fails to address urgent problems.
  • Corruption lurks in the Transport Department yet a budget plan to eliminate it is lacking.
  • The West Rand’s inferior transportation infrastructure requires long overdue improvement. But is Gautrain expansion the answer? Gautrain tickets cost more than PRASA’s and are unaffordable to most commuters as the recent Household Transport Survey revealed.
  • Premiere Makhura talks opposition to corruption yet it finds refuge in the Transport Department, right under his nose.

The full speech can be obtained here.


Speech by: Justus de Goede MPL

“Public transport not meeting demands”

  • What happened to the “radical” transformation we heard so much about over the last year? The Department’s spending framework for the year certainly doesn’t reflect that.
  • Subsidies are falling behind operating costs and new solutions will have to be found to keep routes from being abandoned.
  • Research estimates that for each Rand of investment spent on public transport, between R 4 and R 9 in benefit resulted.
  • This should be a wake-up call – our public transport systems are not keeping pace with strong and rising demand and need urgent attention.

The full speech can be obtained here.


Media Enquiries:

Neil Campbell MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Roads and Transport

082 387 2540


Justus de Goede MPL

DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Transportation

060 558 8305

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Tshwane’s Ill-Conceived BRT Plans Set To Increase Traffic Congestion

The decision by the City of Tshwane (CoT) to reduce lanes along Lynnwood and Atterbury Roads to single lanes to accommodate its bus rapid transit system is short sighted and will have a major impact on commuters to and from the Tshwane CBD.

The CoT has indicted that escalating costs are the driving factor behind the decision, however, the DA is of the opinion that poor planning and a lack of adequate consultation is to blame.

Studies produced by independent traffic engineers have warned of catastrophic consequences which are likely to cripple two key routes to and from schools, the University of Pretoria as well as Gautrain services.

Thousands of residents have voiced their disapproval by signing a DA petition which has been submitted to the Gauteng Provincial Legislature’s Petitions Committee.

In response to the public outcry, Tshwane Mayor, Kgosientso Ramokgopa threatened motorists by stating they would be “forced on to the busses”.

The DA will not condone the misuse of public funds on an unfeasible, and ultimately untenable project.

Threats by the Tshwane Mayor will also not go unchallenged. Residents have the right to choose how they commute, regardless of the Mayor’s ideological bent.

If the city does not come up with a more workable solution, years of traffic jams and billions in lost productivity for the nation’s capital lie ahead.

Surely the lessons learnt from the recent prepaid meter debacle should give the city’s management pause to question the error of its ways.


Media Enquiries:

Justus de Goede MPL

DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Transportation

060 558 8305

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