Media coverage

Gibela assures SA of role in train build

Publication: Business Day
Source: www.bdlive.co.za

GIBELA, the empowered South African company responsible for supplying 580 commuter train sets to the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) over 10 years, says that while the first 20 of 600 "cutting-edge" commuter trains will be made in Brazil, South African workers will be involved in their hands-on construction as part of skills training.

GIBELA, the empowered South African company responsible for supplying 580 commuter train sets to the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) over 10 years, says that while the first 20 of 600 "cutting-edge" commuter trains will be made in Brazil, South African workers will be involved in their hands-on construction as part of skills training.

Gibela told the media on Thursday that apart from the Brazilian build, the train sets would be manufactured at a new purpose-built facility in South Africa, staffed by South Africans. Production would ramp up to 62 trains a year, totalling 3,480 coaches.

The company is 61% held by Alstom Southern African Holdings, 9% by New Africa Rail, and 30% by Ubumbano Rail, and complies with broad-based black employment equity legislation.

Gibela CEO Marc Granger said in spite of Alstom’s majority shareholding in the company, this was not a foreign contract. "It is a contract located in South Africa to benefit the country and its people," he said.

Gibela would do more than just deliver trains. It would be a "catalyst" for transformation, along with developing efficient industrial capacity while supporting economic and social development in South Africa.

About 70ha in Dunnottar, near Nigel in Ekurhuleni, Gauteng, has been designated for the train assembly facility, and a supplier park.

Mr Granger said these facilities would be designed to the highest environmental standards, in line with a "platinum" global leadership in environmental engineering and design grading.

"This means that environmental efficiency is a priority — including the use and recycling of water and power," he said. "This facility is intended to set an example (for South Africa’s) global (industrial) footprint, as well as a new benchmark for South Africa."

Prasa is responsible for commuter trains in metropolitan areas, and is commissioning the R51bn replacement programme as part of its mandate for the National Development Plan to 2030.

The project is one of the largest rail projects in the world, and will take place in two phases over several decades. Gibela is responsible for implementing phase one, and said thousands of skilled jobs would be created. It closed its contract with Prasa at the end of April.