City of Joburg comes to agreement with Sandton Gautrain station

Undergroung Gautrain station.
Undergroung Gautrain station.
Image: Russell Roberts

Sandton Gautrain station portaloos are set to go after its operator Bombela Concession Company reached an agreement with the City of Johannesburg this week, ending a three-week long water cut.

The City cut off the supply earlier this month, forcing commuters to use portable toilets placed in the parking lot after the station’s landlord, Cedar Park, failed to settle a R8m property taxes and utilities debt.

The City and the station have agreed that it will now be billed directly and not through the landlord that has failed to pay over money from the businesses on the property. However, this deal does not include other businesses on the property who have also been without water.

“The City has agreed to provide the Sandton Gautrain station with its own water meter which will result in the City billing the Gautrain directly for its water usage,” said City of Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba.

“The City has agreed to instal this new meter within two days of the Bombela Concession Company paying the City R120,000 in respect of the aforementioned water connection and associated installation costs.”

Cedar Park and the City will on Tuesday square off in the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg over the cutting off of water to the property.

The case, which has stalled for two weeks, will continue after Cedar Park finally paid R1m in security of costs requested by the City in case the company lost the court case.

The City has defended its decision, arguing that Cedar Park has not paid a single cent towards water, sewage, refuse and property rates since taking ownership of the property in 2013.

Sowetan has not been able to reach Cedar Park as the company does not have a website and calls to its parent company Regiment Fund Managers have not been fruitful.

However, in its court papers, the company accused the City of extortion, holding it ransom and risking people’s lives at the same time. The City denied all the allegations and detailed how it continuously asked the company to pay.

The City also argues that it cannot continue providing free services to a private company that has not paid a cent in over six years while expecting residents to pay every month.

“It is important to note that this [agreement with Sandton Gautrain station] will in no way affect the City’s case against Cedar Park. The City remains confident it can win this case," said Mashaba.

“We are unapologetic for cutting the water supply to the property and the taps will remain dry at the remainder of the property until Cedar Park settles their R8m debt with the City,” he said.

Businesses renting on the property last week told Sowetan how they have suffered revenue losses as they have been forced to operate without water.

A salon, Hair Valley, had to stop “providing services that require using water” and as a result its business is suffering.

“The only thing that we do currently is just actually do the hair because we also specialise in wig making and braiding. The bleaching of hair and washing of hair for the customers, we can’t do that,” said an employee who wished to remain anonymous.

The employee said that they have received no explanation or updates from the landlord and only found out why their supply was cut off from a customer.

Another business, Afri Bet, also said it was struggling.

“The situation has been aggravating and frustrating because we have to buy water daily and staff can barely use the toilet,” said Afri Bet in an official response.

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