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Pres­i­dent launches mul­ti­mil­lion-rand train man­u­fac­tur­ing plant

CityPress - - Voices -

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

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