Government’s R4 billion bus project is still not finished – more than a decade later

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Business Tech

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula says that the government has allocated nearly R4 billion to the Rustenburg Rapid Transport (RRT) over the last 10 years – but more time and funding is needed before the project is ‘finished’.

First announced in 2005, the Rustenburg Rapid Transport project started in 2009 with full operations first projected for 2015. More than a decade later, it remains unfinished.

Its initial objective was to place Rustenburg at the ‘forefront’ of public transport. At launch, the project was expected to include 18 station terminals and to ferry up to 75,000 commuters daily. However, development has been hampered by numerous delays – including a change of service providers, negotiations with the taxi industry, and collapsing structures.

Responding to a written parliamentary Q&A, Mbalula said that the original budget for the project was estimated at R3 billion, but budget allocations over the last 10 years have reached R3.9 billion.

R3.16 billion of the allocation has been spent so far, with the minister saying an additional R1.4 billion will be needed to complete the work, taking the total to R4.5 billion.

Mbalula blamed the delays on logistics around construction, and objections to the project.

“It is important to highlight that it was impractical to construct all routes and other infrastructure at once and within a short space of time as this would have caused a gridlock,” he said.

“The municipality therefore had to phase-in construction. There were further objections in the initial stages of construction, which halted construction of bus lanes in the CBD and resulted in construction delays.”

Mbalula said that the Rustenburg Local Municipality (RLM) was allocated funds from the public transport network grant from the 2010/11 financial year.

The provided table summarises the allocation and expenditure per financial year.

Speaking on the progress of the project, Mbalula said that the majority of construction is completed and that the municipality now needs depot infrastructure.

“From henceforth, the city will use the grant operational component to pay compensation to taxi industry incumbents and run the service, these are estimated at R1.4 billion rands including compensation for affected operators over the next 12 years,” he said.

In a statement published on social media by the Rustenburg Rapid Transport group this week, the group said that it was currently reviewing some of the traffic challenges faced by drivers in the city.

“This is done in line with all the strategies of the launch, which is seen to happen sooner (sic),” it said.

“The Yarona Bus is about to hit the town and all systems must be in place. The city is preparing tirelessly with the relevant stakeholders to ensure swift transition. Few more weeks and we are ready.”

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