Gibela firms up Ekurhuleni footprint
Germiston, South Africa. 25 August 2017. Gibela – into its fourth year of delivery on a R51 billion contract with the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) to build 600 new commuter trains for Metrorail – is simultaneously firming up its industrial footprint in Ekurhuleni and positively impacting the revival of South Africa’s train-manufacturing prowess.
This was the thrust of a presentation by the company’s outgoing CEO, Marc Granger, at a gathering of the Ekurhuleni Press Club in Germiston tonight.
In just three years, Gibela – a partnership between French engineering company Alstom and South Africa’s Ubumbano Rail and New Africa Rail – has overseen the manufacture of the first 20 trains in Brazil, using South African materials and involving South Africans as part of an international know-how and skills transfer initiative.
Seventeen of these trains have been delivered to PRASA and are already in commercial service.
Gibela’s R1 billion train-building facility and training centre at Dunnottar in Ekurhuleni – construction of which began little more than a year ago – is already 60% complete. Also to be Gibela’s corporate office, it is expected to be completed in January 2018.
It is here that Gibela’s first South African-built X’trapolis Mega commuter train is scheduled to roll off the production line by the end of 2018. Some 1 100 people – some 84% of them from Ekurhuleni’s historically disadvantaged communities – have secured fixed-term employment during the factory’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 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 the on-site training centre. It is planned for the training centre to skill 19 500 people for careers across South Africa’s rail sector. Bursaries worth R25 million have been awarded to 250 South African students for study in rail-related fields at South African tertiary institutions.
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 learners in Grades 10, 11 and 12 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.
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 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.
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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 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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