Gibela’s Ekurhuleni train factory now 65% complete
Dunnottar, Ekurhuleni. 14 September 2017. With its R1 billion train factory at Dunnottar in Ekurhuleni now 65% complete, South African train-builder Gibela is on track to complete its first South African-made X’trapolis Mega commuter train by the end of 2018.
The company’s Communications Director, Pamella Radebe, and construction programme director, Vuyiswa Tlomatsane, today hosted a visit by journalists to the factory site, where construction began little more than a year ago. Completion is scheduled for January 2018, at which point the factory site will also become Gibela’s corporate head office. At peak, Gibela will be producing 62 new trains a year.
A partnership between French engineering company Alstom and South Africa’s uBumbano Rail and New Africa Rail, Gibela is in its fourth year of delivery on a R51 billion contract with the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) to build 600 state-of-the-art X’trapolis Mega commuter trains over 10 years for Metrorail. The company is also contracted to supply technical support and spares to PRASA for the new trains over 19 years.
In just three years, Gibela has overseen the manufacture of the first 20 trains at an Alstom factory in Brazil, using South African materials and involving South Africans as part of its international know-how and skills transfer initiative. While two of the 20 are test trains, the balance of 18 are already in commercial service in Gauteng; they have clocked up close to 300 000 kilometres to date and are earning acclaim from the province’s rail commuter public.
Some 1 110 people – 84% of them from Ekurhuleni’s historically disadvantaged communities –have secured fixed-term employment during the facility’s construction. Gibela already employs more than 400 people full-time and this is expected to rise to around 1 500 at full production.
To date, more than 200 South African engineers and technicians – including 80 women – have been trained offshore and deployed as full-time Gibela employees. Fifty skilled and semi-skilled artisans and technicians have been recruited and 65 apprentices selected to begin their apprenticeships at Gibela’s on-site training centre. It is planned for the training centre to skill 19 500 people for careers across South Africa’s revitalised rail sector.
Bursaries worth R25 million were awarded in 2016 and 2017 to 250 South African students for study in rail-related fields at South African tertiary institutions. Twenty bursaries have been made available for qualifying candidates from Ekurhuleni. Advertising for bursary applications for the 2018 academic year is starting now.
To meet its demanding local content requirement of at least 65%, Gibela has on-boarded 54 South African suppliers to supply materials, parts and services. In the process, more than 4 700 South African jobs are already being supported by the company’s activities.
A specific “local-local” sourcing strategy within Gibela’s broader sourcing function is being deployed to ensure that small, medium and micro enterprises and – in particular, those owned by black women – based closest to the factory are prioritised for business.
The company has just launched its business development programme, in order to continue development of a strong South African supplier base and delivery on its contractual obligation to source from local suppliers.
In terms of its contribution to community development to date, education has been Gibela’s priority – for learners and educators, from early learning to post-Matric. The company has made a R6.7 million investment in Saturday maths, science and English classes to support some 450 Grade 10-12 learners at 17 Ekurhuleni schools. And a free railway introduction course, run in conjunction with Ekurhuleni East College, is proving popular with senior secondary school pupils and students from tertiary institutions.
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Gibela was formed as a consortium to replace South Africa's outdated rolling stock and will deliver 600 state-of-the art passenger trains into the South African rail network over the next 10 years. Fully empowered, Gibela is conscious of its role as a catalyst for economic development and the creation of new skills through its majority shareholder, Alstom. In a contract signed in 2013, the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) assigned Gibela the task of replacing its rolling stock with new trains.
Gibela is currently headquartered in Johannesburg, while its manufacturing and training facility is located in Dunnottar, Ekurhuleni, Gauteng. Through the rolling stock project, Gibela will generate 1 500 direct jobs and thousands of indirect jobs through the supply chain over a 10-year period. Thousands of people – engineers, artisans, technicians, train drivers and technologists – will benefit from training and upskilling.
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