Gautrain Route Extension Awaits Funding Approval While Public Engagement Continues
The Gautrain Management Agency’s (GMA) progress in their proposed route extension has left residents in anticipation, with unanswered questions about the next steps. The Greater Sharonlea Residents Forum, which presented alternative routes to the GMA in October last year, is yet to receive any feedback from the agency.
Ward 101 councillor Ralf Bittkau, whose ward would be significantly impacted by the route extension, has also been without communication from the agency for months. Currently, the GMA awaits funding approval and remains engaged in public consultations, although no specific schedule has been set at this stage.
The proposed Gauteng Rapid Rail Integrated Network (GRRIN) project by the GMA aims to connect new Gautrain stations in Little Falls, Northgate (Cosmo City Station), and Randburg CBD to the existing Sandton station, which is also set to undergo an upgrade. The route primarily passes through Ward 101 (including Sharonlea, North Riding, and Olivedale) and stretches across Bryanston, Ferndale, Randburg CBD, and Bordeaux, among other Randburg suburbs.
This route extension, mostly above ground (except for the underground section at Randburg CBD and the route beneath Hurlingham), would have implications for residential homes, schools, shopping centres, churches, and roads.
Numerous residents have expressed their opposition, as they are unwilling to see their homes subject to expropriation even with compensation. Matt Boer, a resident, emphasised the emotional attachment to the community, stating, “It is not just about compensation. I grew up here and am proud to say I had a hand in forming this community… We poured our hearts into this place.” Another resident, Carol Freeman, pledged to protect her home of three generations, where her late husband’s ashes rest alongside a 90-year-old oak tree in the garden.
The resident forum proposed two alternative routes, both causing fewer disturbances to residential areas. One of the options involves tunnelling beneath Sharonlea, making it more costly than the original aboveground rail. The second alternative, which the GMA favoured, would require adjustments on Malibongwe Drive but otherwise closely resembled the original route.
Also Read: KFC Disputes Accusations of Kota Idea Theft: Unveiling the Real Story Behind the Innovation
Tlago Ramalepa, the GMA’s acting executive manager for reputation, clarified that the project is still in the planning phase. Ramalepa explained, “Phase 1 of the proposed GRRIN extensions that connect from Marlboro, Sandton, Randburg, Cosmo City, and Little Falls is awaiting the necessary approvals by the provincial executive and the treasury for funding and progressing to the procurement stage.”
This phase represents the initial stage of the four-phase project, with the subsequent phase, the preliminary design stage, expected to commence procurement in the beginning of the 2023 financial year, spanning a period of three to five years.
Ramalepa added, “As part of its planning function, the GMA is undertaking the process of defining the rail reserve for the future railway line to ensure that the land or rights in land that are required to enable the design, construction, and operation of the GRRIN extensions are secured timely… Route determination is the first step in the process of defining a rail reserve for a future railway line in Gauteng.”
While the GMA adhered to the legislated stakeholder consultation process during the route determination, they initiated various stakeholder and community engagements in July last year to provide further information and clarity on the process of defining provincial rail reserves in Gauteng.
Source: Gautrain route extension is awaiting funding approval before next step
Joburg mayor Kabelo Gwamanda fires back – Refutes qualifications inquiry with Steenhuisen comparison
Photo: Facebook / @Gautrain