Taking a closer look at the numbers, it is also disconcerting that more than R200m will be spent by the GMA on construction costs for the Gautrain this year. A portion of this will be used to deal with the muchpublicised water seepage problem.
Excessive water seepage into the tunnels between the Rosebank and Park stations has proven to be a big headache and even delayed the full implementation of the Rosebank to Park route for months as contractors struggled to resolve the issue.
Bombela spokesperson Kelebogile Machaka was asked about the current status of the water leakages.
She says Bombela completed the work in the tunnels a year ago.
However, this view is not shared by all. Neil Campbell, a DA member of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature, recently went on an oversight visit into the Gautrain tunnel systems and he insists the water leakage problem has not been resolved.
“I have personally been to the areas of water ingress and witnessed significant ingress of water – a small stream of it. It is not only the water that is problematic but the dissolved solids (leech) that is drawn out of the surrounding soil. This can cause changes to the concrete tunnel and corrodes pumps, which are running constantly to prevent f looding. Please note that the design life of the tunnel is 100 years and Bombela is only involved for 20 of these years so for 80 years the Gauteng Government will have to pick up the cost of the pumping plus the cost of periodic pump repairs/replacements and tunnel repairs. We have what is described as a young tunnel with all the problems of an old tunnel,” Campbell says.
On the issue of water seepages, Jensen says allowing for slight seasonal f luctuations, the situation is not improving or getting any worse.
“The water ingress into the tunnel section between Rosebank and Park stations, as delivered by the Concessionaire, Bombela Concession Company, is outside of the Concession Agreement specifications. A dispute has been declared and the case is currently being heard by the Arbitration Foundation of South Africa (AFSA). We expect a ruling on the matter by the end of this year.”
Jensen explains that the figures in the report for construction costs refer to general capex costs for new expansions.
“We have to extend Rhodesfield Stations’s parking (currently busy with it) – also have to look at increasing parking at Centurion and if at all possible, if we can get the land, Pretoria Station. We are also looking at extending the platforms at OR Tambo Station so that we can accommodate a four-car train for air passengers.” Gautrain the contractors and the operators were asked how they plan to get around the scourge of cable theft, with the Gautrain surely going to be a prominent target.
At the time they insisted that there was no concern around the issue as the Gautrain’s wiring was being buried under tons of concrete. But this has not worked. Campbell says the cable theft issue really rankles because the provincial transport portfolio committee also identified the possibility a long time ago and the GMA reported that they need have no fear because everything was encased. “Obviously the committee was hoodwinked,” he observes darkly.
Machaka agrees that the Gautrain, along with other rail operators, remains a target for cable thieves.
“Since opening our first service in June 2010, we have experienced four cable theft incidents which have resulted in service delays. We have thousands of kilometres of cables on the Gautrain all working together to supply power or information to hundreds of different components. Great lengths of Gautrain copper cables are buried underground or encased in concrete but at some point these cables need to emerge to connect to the track structure or to the electricity grid or signalling system.”
Campbell says stricter security measures should be put in place in the areas where the cables emerge.
Machaka says far more significant than