The first contract of the Rustenburg local municipality’s R3-billion Rustenburg Rapid Transport (RRT) project, aimed at providing 200 000 commuters in Rusten-burg with transport from 2015, started on June 18.
The contract entails the construction of a portion of the bus rapid transport (BRT) trunk route on the north–west trunk corridor up to Phokeng, which is due for completion in 15 months.
The RRT project is likely to include five road construction contracts, including two BRT corridors – the north–east corridor along the R510 through Kanana, and the north–west trunk corridor along the R104 and R565 up to Phokeng, as well as central business district (CBD) trunk routes, RRT design and construction unit manager Leonie van Wyk tells Engineering News.
The project’s first contract entails the construction of Section 1 of the north–west trunk corridor, which includes a 5 km section along Swartruggens road between Foord street, north of the CBD, and the R565 turn-off to Phokeng, by Rustenburg-based contractor M Civils.
Besides the 36 km of road construction contracts, the other contracts will entail the construction of two bus depots, a transport management centre for running and controlling the RRT system, and 32 bus stations at about 800 m intervals, which will be under- taken mainly between the 2014 and 2015 financial years.
Van Wyk adds that the tender process for the initial procurement of new low-emission buses will open in 2013 once the agreed operational route plans have been finalised.
The Rustenburg Integrated Network joint venture (JV), which will work with the Rustenburg municipality and RRT director Marks Rapoo, was appointed as the project manager for the RRT.
The VelaVKE UWP Phatwe JV is the appointed engineer for the north–west trunk corridor and the CBD.
Further, the Lotshephe Africa JV has been appointed as the engineers for the north–east corridor with ARG Design appointed as architects for the stations and the transport management centre.
Rustenburg is one of 12 South African cities identified by national government as being eligible for a public transport improvement project. The RRT dovetails with national transport and economic development priorities, as outlined in the Public Transport Strategy Action Plan of 2007.
The project will primarily be funded through a Public Transport Infrastructure & Systems Grant from National Treasury.
Rapoo says the RRT project was officially launched on July 21, 2011, with the first phase of the service scheduled to start operating by the end of 2015.
The RRT system will not only include a BRT system, but also an integrated full flex system of normal bus and feeder routes across the municipal district, linking the townships, villages and suburbs of Rustenburg with the CBD and other main industrial and commercial regions, bringing residents closer to job opportunities and social services.
Once operational, the RRT system will provide an integrated and rapid public transport facility that is safe, universally accessible, affordable, efficient and located within 1 km of 85% of local commuters’ homes, says Rapoo.
Meanwhile, the Rustenburg municipality has stipulated that a minimum of 25% of all subcontracting on the RRT project be outsourced to local Rustenburg businesses and labourers as skills transfer is mandatory, he notes.
He says the focus on localisation, which includes jobs in construction, the supply of materials, recruitment of labour, as well as training for bus drivers and allied transport staff, may result in a reinvestment of about R750-million in the Rustenburg economy over the project duration.
“This will be highly beneficial to the municipality’s economy, as the use of local contractors, the skills transfer, the socio- economic benefit of reliable public transport, as well as the training of local labourers, will benefit Rustenburg and build and improve its economy,” explains Rapoo.
It is expected that more than 5 000 short-term jobs will be created during the development phase of the RRT, of which over 1 000 will be earmarked for local residents.
The routes to and from the stations have been determined after almost two years of research and modelling that included gathering data on population numbers, passenger figures, development plans for the munici- pality and considering future needs, says Rapoo.
The routes will ensure that commuters travelling from their homes will easily be able to use the public transport system to get to work and other public places, either in the CBD or the mines in the area.
The RRT route system will have three categories – main, direct and feeder routes.
Van Wyk explains that the north–east and north–west corridor trunk lines will stretch over 40 km and will carry high commuter volumes.
Along these trunk lines, six main routes will provide public transportation for between 16 and 20 hours on weekdays and also extensive operating hours over weekends.
Further, there are 20 direct routes and 26 feeder routes linking townships, villages and suburbs with the city.
They will service the suburbs of the CBD and the main shopping areas of Rustenburg.
“Not all routes will be introduced at once, but will instead be phased in over time according to funds and needs,” notes Rapoo.
Two initial bus depots will be constructed in Phokeng and Kanana at the end of the trunk lines and will be used for parking, refuelling, washing and maintenance.
The Phokeng depot will have the capacity to accommodate 150 12 m standard buses and the Kanana depot 150 18 m buses, including some of the feeder and direct route buses.
A further depot is being considered for the CBD to accommodate additional vehicle fleets.
By learning from the experience of other BRT systems like Rea Vaya, in Johannesburg, and MyCiti, in Cape Town, RRT has been able to streamline approaches to construction, fleet requirements and indus- try transition challenges.
RRT will use the same concept of placing bus stations in the road median, as well as using dedicated bus lanes, but will also have complementary direct and feeder routes working within the same system, says Van Wyk.
Members of the 22 taxi associations operating in the Rustenburg area are being engaged in a six-phase negotiation process to allow for the transition to the RRT system.
Affected minibus taxi operators will become important stakeholders in the system.
The first phase of identifying the affected operators started in 2011 and by early 2012, a Taxi Interim Structure was established.
It is currently considering appointing a team of experts to assist in further negotiations.
Stages 2 and 3 of the process will include evaluating the affected operator businesses and negotiating potential compensation packages – which should be completed by the end of 2013, explains Rapoo.
“Taxi operator employees such as the drivers, marshalls and washers will be offered the opportunity to consider new career options in the RRT system and have access to the required skills training, where necessary.”
The Transport Rustenburg Incubation Programme (Trip) for training local graduates to manage and operate the system in the future is already under way, says Rapoo.
The programme has been established as part of the RRT vision of providing empowerment opportunities and skills transfer for the local community and building competence for the future.
As part of the Trip, five university graduates, all of whom are Rustenburg residents with BCom degrees in transport, have been selected to participate in a three-year learner- ship programme, which will run concurrently with the RRT construction.
further graduate intake is expected later in the year.
Trip is aimed at developing talent for the effective management of the public transport system in years to come.
in January 2012 as a postgraduate learnership programme that provides formal on-the-job training for the candidates and is the first of its kind in the country.
On completion of the learnership, candidates will have to join the Rustenburg local municipality for a minimum of three years to manage the operations of the RRT system.
Under the management of Dr Johan Bosman, Trip has been specifically designed for the RRT system, features a curriculum that builds on the candidates’ existing academic knowledge and is tailored to meet the requirements of the project.
The curriculum consists of six theory modules: an introduction to the theory of transport management, design and construction, operations and technology, business development, as well as marketing and communications.
This will include site visits and practical assessments.
The candidates will present the knowledge they have gained to a panel of RRT project coordinators, municipal officials and RRT technical specialists, who will assess whether their competences are sufficient and whether the outcomes have been met.