Finweek English Edition - - COVER STORY -

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

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