Despite the current project affordability constraints, South Africa has made exponential improvements in progressing its public transport projects, says professional services firm KPMG.
“There is increased awareness of the absolute need for better public transport,” stresses KPMG infrastructure advisory head of global infrastructure major projects De Buys Scott, further highlighting that key project achievements include defining a proper strategy for public transport services.
He adds that this is what prompted the public and private sectors to initiate several public-transport infrastructure projects in recent years.
Key transport project milestones include the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa’s (PRASA’s) R53-billion passenger fleet refurbishment and replacement programme, the programme to refurbish and replace PRASA’s ageing infrastructure, the completed and ongoing implementation of bus rapid transit (BRT) systems across the country, as well as the Gautrain’s extension-feasibility study to investigate expansion areas for the rapid passenger rail system.
The Gautrain and PRASA projects are key flagship projects in which KPMG is currently involved.
The company is assisting PRASA with the requirements and studies needed for the rolling stock, technical depot, station and testing facilities, and the Gautrain with its fleet-expansion project and extension- feasibility studies, as well as the sourcing of potential alternative revenue.
Scott believes that KPMG’s ability to assist with these projects was underscored by the company being awarded the 2015 Global Financial Adviser of the Year by infrastructure news and resource centre the Infrastructure Journal, in its yearly Global Awards for Excellence, which took place last month.
Scott maintains that the PRASA investment will play the most significant role in accommodating South Africans in public transport.
“PRASA’s passenger fleet refurbishment and replacement programme, when completed, will provide double the transport capacity at double the speed in a safe environment, thereby creating a material improvement in the system.”
The agency’s current fleet, which has reached the end of its design life capacity, will be replaced by new, faster and more reliable trains. These will be procured from France-based transport company and original- equipment manufacturer Alstom.
The first trains are expected to be delivered and commissioned by the second half of 2016. Up to 3 600 new train units will be deployed in the next ten years.
Scott says the refurbishment of the Metrorail system will also provide those with a higher living- standards measurement with an alternative to private car use, which might reduce the use of private- and public-vehicle road transport.
Scott further highlights the need for the public sector to seriously consider improving long-distance passenger train systems in South Africa.
“Systems like the Shosholoza Meyl – PRASA’s long-distance passenger rail services division – need to be investigated for a sustainable business model,” he suggests, adding that after defining the model, a feasibility study and procurement roll-out should follow.
The Shosholoza Meyl currently operates various train routes across South Africa, carrying about four-million passengers a year. Long-distance services are currently also supported by long-distance bus services for intercity and interprovince transport requirements.
Scott reiterates that public transport remains a significant catalyst “for changing mindsets and driving investment into more robust and enabling infrastructure for the country”, adding that the correct passenger and freight transport projects and programmes are currently under way in South Africa.
“However, we need to appreciate the time required for these projects to be properly bedded, and we need to be aware that they must be monitored, periodically evaluated and amended accordingly.”
These actions are mandatory, as several of the projects are greenfield investments for South Africa, he adds, further suggesting that South Africa can advance the development of its transport systems by drawing from other global initiatives – specifically those in other developing countries – in terms of what worked better and what lessons were learnt.
“As long as there is an open mind to other possibilities and efficiency enhancers, South Africa is on the right track,” he concludes.
Johannesburg – There is an old Chinese saying: “When you want to make the lives of the community better, build a road.” Building of roads and public transport infrastructure therefore goes beyond asphalt and bitumen.
Most importantly for us who have lived under a system of separate development, the government now has an opportunity to re-fashion apartheid geography and to spatially reconfigure the Gauteng city region along the five development corridors as identified by the provincial government.
Over the next couple of years, the work of the Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport will focus on a number of high-impact transport projects.
These include the Aerotropolis around OR Tambo International Airport, the extension of the Gautrain, the development of a new freight and logistics hub known as the Tambo-Springs Inland Port, the roll-out of the bus rapid transit systems in Joburg (Rea Vaya), Tshwane (A Re Yeng) and Ekurhuleni (Harambi), and last, the revitalisation of Metrorail.
Cumulatively, these projects will create over half a million jobs during and after the construction phases.
They will stimulate economic growth, particularly in Ekurhuleni, whose manufacturing sector has been slumping.
The Aerotropolis and the Tambo-Springs Freight and Logistics Hub will greatly boost intra-African trade. According to the UN Conference on Trade and Development Report 2013, the average share of intra-African exports of merchandise was 11 percent compared to 50 percent in developing Asia, 21 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean and 70 percent in Europe. We believe the Aerotropolis and the Tambo-Springs Freight and Logistics Hub will greatly impact on our export figures.
Metrorail remains the primary mode of mass transit for a million commuters in Gauteng who use its trains daily. To improve their daily commute, the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa is modernising this mode of transport through the acquisition of new coaches. We are also integrating our rail system with the bus systems and Gautrain so that commuters can travel faster and with ease. As part of this, we hope to expand the Gautrain to link Tembisa with Lanseria Airport.
Transport developments should be seen against the backdrop of the new human settlements which are being spearheaded by the private sector and supported by the government. New housing developments such as Steyn City, Waterfall City, River City and Savannah City will grow the population of our province, while transforming our municipalities.
We are working with road and transport officials in different spheres of the government to ensure appropriate road and transport networks are in place to accommodate the additional users.
The public transport and road infrastructure deficit in sub-Saharan Africa remains a challenge as this leads to higher production costs and undermines competitiveness. We have to overcome this deficit progressively as it acts as a constraint on economic growth. This also means that we will continue to maintain the existing road network as we build new roads.
Hence, we are investing heavily in the upgrade of the N12 and N14 freeways, the completion of William Nicol Drive and the R511 from Erasmia to Diepsloot/N14.
In addition, we will rehabilitate and upgrade arterial roads such as the K46 from Fourways to Randburg, the R82 between Eikenhof and Walkerville, and Cedar Road between Runnymead Road and Witkoppen Road.
Annually, the provincial department processes over 250 000 driving licence booking slots. This front-line service as provided by Driver Licence Testing Centres remains a critical meeting point between the department and residents. We aim for this service to be of a good quality and also free of corruption.
To achieve this, the department has implemented 24 computerised learner licence testing centres, which diminishes the role of examiners in conducting learners’ licence tests. In addition, the provincial department with key stakeholders also launched an anti-corruption campaign in Diepkloof, Soweto, in March.
Also, we are expanding our capacity especially to historically disadvantaged communities. During this financial year, we will build two new driving licence testing centres in Kagiso and Sebokeng.
In recognition that a driving licence still remains a key aspiration for many South Africans, in particular our youth, we are partnering with the Gauteng Department of Education to assist grade 11 and 12 pupils to register for learners’ licences.
All spheres of government have made significant investments toward safer, more reliable, affordable, accessible transport systems of the highest standard.
Through the 25-year Integrated Transport Master Plan, we hope to encourage commuters of all socio-economic categories to switch to public transport. Let us move Gauteng forward by using public transport.
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Johannesburg – Gauteng’s population is projected to double over the next 25 years, placing increased pressure on public transport, Roads and Transport MEC Ismail Vadi has said.
“Gauteng’s population has doubled in the last 20 years. We got our 25-year plan – the integrated master plan,” Vadi told News24.
“They’ve forecasted that, and we’re predicting that, again, in the next 25 years the population will double. I think that trend, at this stage, we can say that’s the trend.
“Stats SA did a census in October 2011. Gauteng’s figure was 12.3 million. 2011, 2012, 2013, we are now on to either 12.9 or 13 million already.”The department had a ballpark figure of around 20 000 people coming into Gauteng every month from across the country, Southern Africa, and overseas.
Pressure on government
“It puts a lot of pressure on government because you then have to provide schooling, health facilities, housing, so it’s not just roads and transport,” Vadi says.
“I know the education department, every year it struggles. They’ve got an upfront student enrolment programme and they start I think now already, but come the first day of school next year parents will be waiting at the school gate, wanting admission.”
“Where do they come from? Where were they for the last nine months when schools were doing enrolments and those kinds of things.”
It was a symptom of the migration, and in terms of transport, it pressurised the province’s road network and public transport.
“Many of those who are coming into the province are not necessarily economically productive. They are in search of employment and therefore they rely on a cheap and affordable and reliable public transport system, and we’re trying to play catch up and trying to build that public transport system,” Vadi says.
“I think we got the core elements, but it’s not fully integrated. It’s not extensive enough, it doesn’t allow for seamless movement from one point to the other, and therefore the very, very heavy reliance on the taxi industry.”
The province’s approach to public transport was three-fold, with Vadi believing the biggest initiative from national, provincial and local government was the bus rapid transit (BRT) system.
Bus rapid transit
“Joburg is leading with that, they’ve got two phases rolled out in the Rea Vaya. Tshwane has started now with A Re Yeng. The first phase is ready, they’re busy extending the first phase, and then hopefully by April next year, Ekurhuleni will have the first phase up and running also,” Vadi says.
“This is a five-year programme for all of the metropolitan municipalities. If we complete all of these projects on time, as planned, we would have probably about 700km to 800km of BRT network running into the all the metropolitan municipalities.”
He said the role of the province was to connect the different systems, which are confined within the boundaries of the different metros.
“One needs to create some kind of interconnectivity between these systems, so we are identifying intermodal points where you can say hop off Rea Vaya and then hop onto A Re Yeng, so that you can have movement from here to Pretoria,” Vadi says.
The second element of public transport was the Gautrain, with the project’s first phase having been completed.
“I think all the signs are that it is a very successful project. Ridership on average is growing at 2% every month. The latest figures we’ve got is 55 000 passengers daily, about 1.3 million every month. We are now busy with the planning for the second phase of the Gautrain which is an extension, a completely new development,” the MEC says.
“The pre-feasibility study says there is a basis for that. We are busy with the feasibility study which should be ready by the middle of next year and based on that report, we can then go to National Treasury, get some funding from the provincial treasury then approach the market for major investment.”
The second phase of Gautrain’s development would be a 10-year project. While Vadi wished it could be easier, when it came to multi-term projects, especially large ones like the Gautrain, rolling out public transport infrastructure took time.
The third element towards getting public transport right in Gauteng was Metrorail.
“Metrorail moves about a million people daily. It’s an old, rickety system, and I think we really, really have to put a lot of energy rebuilding that system, revitalising it,” Vadi says.
“Hopefully the first signs of that will materialise later this year. Round about November, we’re expecting the first 20 coaches to come, 20 trains. Their’s, I think, will be a 10 or 15-year programme. In total they’ll be getting about 6 000 to 8 000 new coaches. For Gauteng, we should be getting about 2 800 new coaches over the next decade.”
Coupled with the new coaches was the modernisation of the signalling system, which Vadi says at present was an old cable network which was manually operated.
“Everything is done manually and that’s why you have these accidents. They busy setting up a new control centre,” he says.
“It should be ready by October this year; fibre-optic cabling, with a very modern control room signalling system. The technology has to change, the rail technology has to change, so that’s the new coaches.”
It was not a quick fix, with the turn-around time being around 10 years, but Vadi said the National Treasury had made a commitment to finance and fund these developments.
“The horizon looks good, but I wish it would’ve been done yesterday,” Vadi says.
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