This was part of an initiative to convert "a thousand" taxis to the cleaner alternative fuel. The new filling station can service about 600 vehicles per day.
Compressed natural gas is cheaper than diesel or petrol. It is also more efficient, said Stephen Rothman, CEO of CNG Holdings — the parent company of NGV Gas, which is responsible for the project.
The Industrial Development Corporation holds a 36% stake in CNG Holdings after investing R120m. The funding will go towards phase one of the project which includes building flagship public filling stations.
Five existing filling stations in Soweto, Pretoria and Randburg have been earmarked to provide compressed natural gas to customers from next month.
More than 15-million vehicles globally run on natural gas, according to Natural Gas Vehicles for America, an industry group. Many of these are in developing countries such as Pakistan, Brazil and India.
In Bangladesh, only "baby taxis" — or tuk-tuks — powered by natural gas have been allowed in the city’s capital, Dhaka, since 2003, according to reports.
"The effect of having 1,000 vehicles off fuel is huge. This has happened in other countries around the world and has stimulated the growth of natural gas vehicles," said Mr Rothman.
Gauteng MEC for roads and transport, Ismail Vadi said at the launch the natural gas filling station was consistent with policy.
Both the national and provincial government had targets to reduce carbon emissions. But neither was meeting them.
"The working class population in this country is essentially the walking class. It is the rising middle class that is totally reliant on their vehicles. We need to begin to shift and change that culture and use public transport," Mr Vadi said.
South Africa has more than 10-million vehicles — 40% in Gauteng. About 38.8% of workers in South Africa used public transport to travel to work last year, according to Statistics SA’s national household travel survey, released earlier this week. Of these trips, 68% were made by taxi and 19% by bus.
The National Development Plan has set targets to make natural gas 5% of the energy mix between 2020 and 2030.
However, Mr Rothman said while gas was now being widely recognised as the fastest-growing energy source in the world — with natural gas’s share of global energy expected to rise from 20% to 25% between 2005 and 2030 — gas reserves still remained largely untapped.
"The problem stems from issues such as difficulty with transportation resulting in … stranded reserves."
The company also supplies gas to clients in the industrial sector, with cost savings of between 25% and 35% being reported, according to Mr Rothman.