The R12-billion monorail system unveiled by the Gauteng provincial government and the Gauteng Economic Development Agency (Geda), last week, had not received all the necessary approvals, Minister of Transport Jeff Radebe said on Wednesday.
In fact, Radebe said in a statement that the first he heard of the proposal was when it was announced in the media.
The Gauteng provincial government said later on Wednesday that, in response to Radebe's remarks, MEC for Public Transport, Roads and Works Ignatius Jacobs had requested an "urgent" meeting with the Minister on the matter.
Malaysian group Newcyc Vision (Newcyc) earlier this month signed a deal with the Gauteng government for the construction of a R12-billion monorail system, which would run from Soweto to Johannesburg.
Jacobs had said at the time that Newcyc had been working with the government for over a year towards finalising the deal.
The Malaysian group will fund 100% of the proposed project, but questions have been raised about a perceived lack of transparency in the agreement, as well as how appropriate a monorail would be for Johannesburg commuters.
“We can confirm that the Gauteng province did not consult nor discuss nor seek approval for this proposal with my Ministry or Department,” Radebe said in the statement.
He also pointed out that it was "unclear" what procurement process was followed to secure the contract or what arrangement was made to facilitate transparent competitive tendering for this project.
He said that the proposal for the monorail was not discussed in December 2005 when Cabinet approved the Interim Rail Plan, nor later on in December 2006 with the National Rail Plan, which consolidated the Regional Rail Plans, or even in October 2006 at the Transport Indaba.
“As recent as Monday May 7, I met with the mayor, and members of the Mayoral Council of the Johannesburg Metropolitan Council to discuss Public Transport and throughout our meeting the Monorail proposal was not discussed,” Radebe stated.
Department of Transport spokesperson Collin Msibi told Engineering News Online that "whoever was driving the process" needed to understand the protocol that needed to be followed.
He added however that the Minister was "not in any way dismissive" of the monorail project.
Radebe was open to consultation, Msibi said, but was still waiting to be approached by provincial government.