Terence Creamer & Irma Venter
South Africans “shouldn’t be surprised” if the R25-billion Gautrain project is not ready in time for the start of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which is due to kick off in June next year, Murray & Roberts (M&R) CEO Brian Bruce said on Thursday.
Speaking to analysts in Johannesburg, Bruce repeated the group’s oft-stated position that it had never been contracted to complete the project in time for the international football showcase.
He did hint to the fact that there were still discussions around the possibility of completing the project for the tournament, but said that he did not want to go into the details.
“I can only repeat that we are not contracted to do so, and there have been a number of issues around a major contract of this nature that make it difficult to contemplate that.
“So, we shouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t happen,” Bruce stated.
He stressed, though, that the project was proceeding well operationally and argued that, once commissioned, it would “change the way of life of people of this city”.
Bruce’s sentiments appear to gel with recent cautionary statements made by Gautrain Management Agency CEO Jack van der Merwe, who also reminded Engineering News recently that the rapid-rail development had never been conceived of as a World Cup project.
“Look, the thing is, we can make it,” Van der Merwe told this publication in a recent interview. “But we'll have to sit down by the middle of this year with Bombela and look at what must be accelerated, and what this involves.”
Bombela is a consortium consisting of international partners Bombardier and Bouygues Travaux Publics, and local stakeholders Murray & Roberts, black economic-empowerment company the Strategic Partners Group, the J&J Group, as well as Absa Bank.
Van der Merwe added that there would be cost implications.