A forensic investigation is underway into the implementation of the bus rapid transit (BRT) project implemented by the city of Ekurhuleni.
The resolution to institute a forensic probe was taken on July 25 at a mayoral committee meeting, News24 reported.
“Regarding the allegations around the implementation of the system, the investigation is in progress,” was all metro spokesperson Themba Gadebe was prepared to say in a statement to Kempton Express.
He admitted the implementation of phase 1A of the system was not without challenges.
The BRT, known as Harambee, is part of the city’s integrated public transport network (IPTN). Once completed, the network will link all nine towns and 17 townships within Ekurhuleni via different transport modes including rail transit (Gautrain, PRASA and Transnet), road transit, buses, and taxis.
The Harambee project kicked off with dedicated bus lanes and feeder routes where the buses run in mixed traffic, Gadebe said.
However, this system had since been revised so that future services will operate in mixed traffic only and will enjoy preference at intersections to ensure the buses remain rapid in normal traffic.
“The reduction on the required infrastructure will not only save costs but will assist in expediting the roll out across the entire city,” said Gadebe.
Phase 1A will connect Tembisa Hospital with Rhodesfield via Kempton Park CBD. To date, the first phase of the trunk route (dedicated bus lane) between Rabasotho Hall in Tembisa and the R25 intersection in Terenure has been completed.
Although the trunk lanes have been completed, the lanes are not yet operational due to the construction of the nine median stations and six pedestrian crossing bridges along the alignment.
The planned completion for the pedestrian crossing bridges is towards the end of 2018, while the median stations are planned for completion during the third quarter of 2019.
On October 18 last year the project commenced to operate a bus service between Station 7 at Rabasotho Hall and Isando business park. The current service is operating in mixed traffic and once the infrastructure is completed, the service will operate on the trunk route from Station 7 to the R25 (Modderfontein intersection) from where it will continue on the complementary route to Isando.
The current service utilises kerbside stops and paper tickets sold at two mobile kiosks.
“In the near future, the system will change over to an EMV (Europay/Master/Visa) card system which will allow passengers to purchase their own reloadable Harambee card,” added Gadebe.
Various factors had contributed to delays in the full roll-out of phase 1A of the BRT project.
A major hold-up, according to Themba Gadebe, spokesperson for the metro, is the demolition of a building in Tembisa.
Tembisa Society of the Aged occupies this building along the BRT route, which needs to be demolished.
The building was built illegally on land belonging to the City of Ekurhuleni, Gadebe said.
“Verbal agreements were reached that the occupants should be evicted and eviction letters were issued. Human settlements, together with the real estate department was notified about this for assistance to relocate the occupants. The occupants took the matter to court as they refused to vacate the building.
“After numerous negotiations, tenants finally agreed to move out of the building to make way for the project. Therefore, the demolition of the grey building can proceed on condition the tenants are provided with alternative accommodation,” Gadebe said.
The transport and real estate department has identified alternative temporary accommodation. A new facility will be built adjacent to the main building. Demolition of the building will be done and the widening of the road project is at tender stage, he explained.
Construction on other road and related infrastructure can only commence upon the relocation of about 20 illegal dwellers.
Gadebe said: “During the design stage of the project, a number of illegal dwellers were identified as living within the servitude of the planned route of the project. The matter was escalated and a court order was obtained in June 2017 for the illegal dwellers to vacate the site.”
The illegal occupants have since refused to move. Various meetings were held to try salvage the situation but had reached a deadlock.
Gadebe said the illegal dwellers demanded RDP houses provided by the city.