Media coverage

Gibela vetting 100 local companies as possible suppliers for PRASA contract

Publication: Engineering news

Reiterating its committment to fulfilling local content requirements during the servicing of the R51-billion rolling stock contract awarded to it by the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa, South African rail company Gibela has preselected nearly 100 local companies as possible component and service suppliers.

The suppliers would now be vetted, after which negotiations would begin.

Eleven letters of intent for the provision of steel, cables, lights, interiors, connectors and insulation had, thus far, been signed, while four contracts with local suppliers were already in place.

Gibela CEO Marc Granger said the company was targeting 70% local content in its components and services in an effort to revitalise the South African economy and develop local supply chains.

“This is first and foremost a South African contract. Although [French multinational] Alstom is a 61% shareholder in Gibela, PRASA has made it very clear that this project should be designed to involve and benefit South Africans. And we are 100% comfortable with that,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.

Securing South African suppliers to source the raw materials and components for the 600 commuter trains to be manufactured for PRASA over a ten-year period began well before the contract was awarded to Gibela, he added.

“We knew we wanted to involve South African suppliers and so we began the process of identifying suitable companies while we were busy with the tender. In some cases, we even began the processes necessary to raise their product specifications to international standards,” he outlined.

Germiston-based Siyahamba Engineering, one of the companies already contracted, had 28 years of rail sector manufacturing experience and was awarded the contract for the manufacture of drivers’ cab doors for the first 200 PRASA trains over a four-year period.

A further contract for additional scope of work was currently under negotiation.

Siyahamba CEO Douglas Chauke explained that 85% of the 165 employees were unskilled, with artisans and skilled workers comprising the balance.

Twenty-five women worked on the factory floor and were involved in core business activities.

“Some 12 employees have already been hired to deal with the additional work created by the project and we estimate that, in the next ten years, a further 110 individuals will be hired as production ramps up to 62 trains a year,” he commented.

While Gibela’s own requirements were for skilled employees and artisans to assemble the trains, Chauke explained that suppliers such as Siyahamba were more likely to have the capacity to employ unskilled labour.

“We have very experienced artisans and supervisors who provide on-the-job training and we also send our employees for specialised training with our suppliers and other recognised training institutions. This means that we can create jobs and upskill people at the same time,” he said.