South Africa : Gautrain creates 63 000 jobs despite global economic crisis

By Nthambeleni Gabara

Johannesburg - Despite the current global economic meltdown, the Gautrain project has created and sustained 63 000 jobs.

Releasing the project's Socio-Economic Development (SED) achievements on Tuesday, Gauteng MEC for Local Government, Qedani Mahlangu said this included the creation of 11 700 direct jobs and a further 51 500 indirect jobs.

"So, an estimated total of 63 200 jobs to date were created and sustained," the MEC said.

She said the Gautrain has presented the province with an opportunity to empower its citizens and expand its economic activity.

"This is a clear indication of our commitment to grow the province's economy by 8 percent by 2014.

"The countless opportunities created by the provincial government through Gautrain's investment in the welfare of its people are even more significant given the current economic downturn," she said.

With regard to skills development and capacity building, the MEC said 10 400 courses have been attended by unskilled and semi-skilled employees, while 1 250 training courses were attended by management.

A total of R36 million was used in this regard for human resource development.

The SED philosophy, the MEC said was a sustainable investment in people to grow the economy, while the SED strategy focuses on local skills development, capacity building and job creation.

Core elements of the Gautrain's SED strategy was developed before the signing of the concession agreement with Bombela Concession Company to ensure that all parties share an equal understanding of SED requirements.

The Bombela Concession Company is the project's private partner and has a 20-year concession agreement with the Gauteng Provincial Government for Gautrain's 54-month construction period including a 15-year operating and maintenance phase.

According to the MEC, the Gautrain project partners adhere to a comprehensive and stringent monitoring regime to ensure compliance with SED objectives through all the phases of the project.

The provincial government and Bombela have jointly appointed an Independent Socio-Economic Monitor (ISEM) to verify Bombela's monthly achievements of SED obligations.

Ms Mahlangu said Bombela has committed and embraced the SED objectives of the Gauteng provincial government.

"They also made extensive efforts to ensure that it substantially exceeded its SED obligations in each quarter within each of the respective SED elements.

"As a result of the commitment, the total anticipated SED benefits of the project to date have been significantly exceeded," she said.

Gautrain Management Agency Chief Executive Officer, Jack van der Merwe said the implementation of Gautrain's broad-based socio-economic development strategy ensures that SED remains a cornerstone of the Gautrain Project.

"It is evident that Gautrain has already made a significant impact on socio-economic development in Gauteng," he said. - BuaNews