The City of Johannesburg has launched a process to determine the ability of the local automotive sector to build the 134 buses required for Phase 1B of the Rea Vaya bus rapid transit (BRT) locally.
A meeting to provide more information to the industry will be held this month.
Mayoral committee member for transport Rehana Moosajee says the 134 buses – which includes 41 articulated buses – will be operated by a different company from the one managing Phase 1, and will cover a new route through the city, even though it will sport the same branding.
The operating company on the first phase, Pio Trans, includes taxi operators affected by the implementation of the Rea Vaya BRT along the Soweto to Ellis Park route. A crippling bus driver strike has recently halted services on this route for two months.
Phase 1B encompasses the second trunk route of the system, and will run from Noordgezicht to Parktown, and on to the Johannesburg central business district. The 18 km, ten-station project carries an estimated infrastructure cost of R1.2-billion.
The acquisition of buses for Phase 1 of the system was widely criticised as the 143 Scania people movers for this phase were fully imported, even though the company had assembly facilities in South Africa.
Moosajee notes, however, that this was done in order to deal with the “very tight time restrictions” to have the system operational for the FIFA Confederations Cup in June 2009.
“The mayoral committee had then already taken the decision that Phase 1B of Rea Vaya will have to be a catalyst, as far as possible, for local production.”
With Rea Vaya one of many BRT systems being rolled out across the country, national government has taken a particular interest in establishing a viable local bus manufacturing industry in South Africa – one larger than the assembly currently undertaken.
It appears the Department of Trade and Industry will, in December, designate buses for local procurement – meaning it would require government and State agencies to buy locally manufactured buses, as noted by Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies in a speech at the Johannesburg Motor Show in October.
“The city’s view on Rea Vaya is in line with national government’s views on local procurement and job creation,” Moosajee tells Engineering News Online.
“We will be weighted heavily towards local content. Our interest is to create jobs and manufacturing capacity locally.
“We believe that as other cities [in South Africa] and other countries in Africa increasingly look towards integrated rapid transport networks, there is a market for companies to produce buses in South Africa.”
Moosajee does not believe having two bus brands within the Rea Vaya system would increase maintenance costs.
She is hopeful Phase 1B will start operations in June 2012 – which means the buses would have to be ready to hit the tar by the middle of next year.
“We will be willing to relook this if it means we can create more jobs, so there is some element of flexibility built in,” adds Moosajee.
She does not want to specify a percentage of local content for the Phase 1B buses yet.
“We are now first testing the ability of the market to respond, and then we will gauge how tightly specced the procurement tender must be.”
She expects the tender to go out early next year.