on GETTING track SA BACK
President launches multimillion-rand train manufacturing plant
President Cyril Ramaphosa has officially launched a multibillion-rand train manufacturing plant in Gauteng.
The factory will deliver two new trains by December, a further nine trains by March next year and an estimated 56 trains in the next two years.
The National Empowerment Fund (NEF) is a co-investor in the Gibela Rail Transport Consortium, which built the new multibillion-rand train manufacturing factory at Dunnottar Park in Nigel.
Speaking at the event, Ramaphosa said it was a great moment for the development of passenger rail in South Africa and for the expansion of the industrial capacity of our economy.
“As an essential part of government’s rolling stock fleet renewal programme, this factory serves as a catalyst for the transformation of passenger rail services and public transport more broadly.
“It demonstrates our determination to develop passenger rail as a critical enabler of economic growth and social development.
“Passenger rail is among the most cost-effective and efficient means to connect people to places of work, to holiday destinations and to relatives and friends. “Even as we work to overcome the spatial distortions of the apartheid urban landscape, we will rely on passenger rail to carry millions of South Africans to and from work,” Ramaphosa said.
The country’s railways must become the arteries of a growing economy that brings meaningful improvement in people’s lives, he said.
After decades of underinvestment in new trains for passenger rail transport, the investment signifies a new era in the modernisation of the commuter rail network, Ramaphosa said.
“This factory will have a profound impact not only in the sphere of public transport, but in developing the country’s manufacturing capacity.
“For, instead of simply importing new train sets, we have used this opportunity to invest in local industry, capabilities and skills,” he explained.
Ramaphosa said the rolling stock fleet renewal programme is expected to create more than 8 000 direct jobs throughout the Gibela Consortium’s supply chain, with this factory targeting the creation of 1 500 jobs.
NEF chief executive Philisiwe Mthethwa said: “When Prasa [the Passenger Rail Agency of SA] embarked on the rolling stock procurement programme, it adopted a deliberate approach of selecting broad-based consortium entities by setting aside a 30% stake in the project for black participants.
“This process ensured the participation in the process by new entrants and by an employee share trust and an educational trust.
“This is aligned to the NEF’s strategy of broadening the participation of black people in the economic mainstream and of creating black industrialists. The total investment was R90 million and the NEF and BBBEE [broad-based black economic empowerment] consortiums invested R86 650 800 and R3 823 200.
“The NEF is proud to be associated with this momentous and historic infrastructure development project, which is one of many milestones we have supported in the quest for sustainable and inclusive growth,” she said.
The 72 hectare site at Dunnottar Park in Ekurhuleni houses the factory, a supplier park and the Rail Training School. This industrial complex, constructed at a cost of about R1 billion, will manufacture, assemble, test, commission and deliver 580 new commuter trains.
The launch is also part of government’s 20-year modernisation programme aimed at revitalising the rail industry through manufacturing parts locally, maintenance, training facilities, creation of jobs, the achievement of 65% local content, and training and skills development for Prasa employees and young people interested in the rail industry.
Transport Minister Blade Nzimande (left) and President Cyril Ramaphosa speak to Gibela staff at the launch of the new multibillion-rand train manufacturing plant in Gauteng
NEF CEO Philisiwe Mthethwa says the financier is committed to good governance