Speech by the Deputy Minister of Transport, Mr Jeremy Cronin during the handing over of a safety permit to the Bombela Concession Company by the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) OR Tambo International Airport Gautrain Station
2 Jun 2010
The Gauteng MEC for Transport and Public Works, MEC Bheki Nkosi
The Chairperson and Board Members of the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR)
The CEO of the RSR
The CEOs of Bombela Concession Company, Bombela Construction Company and Bombela Operating Company
The CEO of Gautrain Management Agency
The CEOs of the Transport Agencies
Members of the media
Ladies and gentlemen
It is an honour and privilege for me to be tasked with the responsibility of handing over a Safety Permit to Bombela Operating Company on behalf of the Railway Safety Regulator. We gather here eight days before the start of the 2010 FIFA World Cup games and the whole country is united in our collective wish to deliver a successful event.
It has been a long road since the historic announcement in May 2004. The staging of this event has presented an opportunity for us to move with speed in delivering most of the critical transport projects. For example, in the aviation sector, we have spend over R25 billion in airport upgrades and the development of the King Shaka International Airport, over R20 billion in road upgrades, over R25 billion over the medium term to stabilise and upgrade passenger rail transport.
The passenger rail improvements under Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) include rolling stock refurbishment, signalling projects, railway infrastructure and station upgrades. Other key initiatives include the introduction of the Bus Rapid Transport system and the transformation of the mini-bus taxi transport.
Although the Gautrain Rapid Rail project was never initially meant to be a World Cup project, it remains one of the examples of how the World Cup has spurred all of us into action in order to improve our transport system. The completion and envisaged operation of the first phase of project between Sandton and OR Tambo International Airport was primarily driven by the need to complement the current transport services in support of the World Cup. The Gautrain Rapid Rail Link is the largest public-private partnership (PPP) project in South Africa to date and is part of a holistic and integrated transport plan for the Gauteng province, which includes other public transport modes.
All of the above projects are aimed at improving our overall transport system beyond the FIFA 2010 World Cup. Indeed, this event has presented an opportunity that we can all draw lessons from. It has generated the energy and drive that this country will need way beyond this event. We will need to take stock of the things we have done very well in preparing for this event and use this as a yardstick going forward.
Through this event, we have been able build a sound base to address some of the transport challenges facing this country. It is however important to note that our efforts will be in vain if, having delivered successfully on these projects, we fail to manage them in an sustainable, effective and safe manner. It is of no use to invest so much money on upgrading our roads when we do not pay serious attention on the sustainability and safe utilisation of these roads. Similarly, what is the point of improving our railway system if we cannot simultaneously pay attention on managing it sustainably and safely?
These massive investments serve to illustrate the need to build a viable, reliable and efficient transport system which will in turn play a critical role in the overall economic development of the country. Safety is therefore a critical element in the effort to build an efficient and sustainable transport system. Safety in all modes of transport is a key priority for government.
It is in this regard that we have established institutions that regulate safety in all modes of transport, for example, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) in maritime transport, Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in aviation, the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) in road traffic and the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) in rail transport. These institutions should serve to advance our strategic objective of ensuring safe operations of our transport system.
Improving safety performance of the railway system remains the fundamental driver of the Railway Safety Regulator’s mandate and all its efforts are concentrated on achieving this objective railway operations should embrace safety as part of the operating philosophy and this requires a great sense of responsibility on safety and environmental issues.
Compliance to the dictates of safety requirements will not only impact positively on society but will also preserve the railways’ asset base and hence improve the competiveness of railways. It therefore follows that railway safety should not be regarded as a peripheral issue but an integral component of the overall management of the railway business.
The Safety Management System employed by the Railway Safety Regulator is a clear example of integrating safety in the overall management of railway operations. Since its creation, there has been an increased awareness of safety in railways, improvements in safety management and accountability, the standardisation of safety management systems among railway operators in South Africa and regional railways operating into South Africa. Through the introduction of the Safety Permit System, the RSR has ensured the standardisation of safety management systems within the railway industry.
Over the past years, the RSR has placed a lot of emphasis in auditing the operator’s safety management systems, as these provide a sound basis for effective management of safety in the railway environment. I am pleased to note that the RSR has also intensified targeted technical audits focusing on infrastructure Integrity, communication infrastructure, interface management and rolling stock maintenance. This will build on the progress made by the RSR Inspectorate which has, as at end March 2010, conducted a total of:
* 740 SMS audits at operational sites
* 46 Ad Hoc Inspections
* 47 occurrence investigations and
* 112 technology reviews and safety assessment of “New Works” including the Gautrain Project.
As a result of the above activities the RSR has issued the following directives:
* 10 Prohibition directives when immediate threat to railway safety was evident.
* 63 non-compliance notices when elements of a safety management system were not implemented.
* 105 improvement directives when there is possible threat to safety, for example physical infrastructure defects.
Indeed, all of the above actions illustrate the fact that the RSR is focused on its role to ensure a safe railway environment. With respect to the Gautrain Project, the RSR is working closely with the Bombela Concession Company to ensure the safe operation of the Gautrain Rapid Rail project. The Railway Safety Management standard requires all operators to follow the life cycle approach to managing safety, from concept through design, construction, test and commissioning, operation and finally decommissioning.
To this end the RSR has engaged the Gautrain Rapid Rail Project in the phases of design, construction and test and commissioning by conducting safety reviews and assessments on safety aspects. In addition the RSR has issued a Safety Permit for the operation of construction trains, as well as for the testing and commissioning phases. All these efforts are aimed at ensuring the rapid rail project operates safely once introduced for commercial operation.
I am therefore pleased to inform you that Bombela has presented its Safety Management System to the RSR as part of the process of requesting permission to operate the first phase of the project. In granting the Safety Permit, the RSR confirms that Bombela has a Safety Management System in place to manage safe railway operations. I wish to congratulate both the RSR and Bombela for the hard work in ensuring that this day becomes a reality.
In presenting this Safety Permit on behalf of the Railway Safety Regulator, I can confirm that Bombela Operating Company is now granted permission to run operations between Sandton and OR Tambo International Airport.
Issued by: Department of Transport
2 June 2010
Issued by: Department of Transport
2 Jun 2010
[ Top ]