We’ve got the skills to tackle locomotive upgrades
THANKS to our huge and varied mineral resources, South Africa has developed a world-class industrial capability over the past 100 years.
It saw the development of major industrial entities such as Iscor, the Dorbyl Group of companies, Eskom, Middelburg Ferrochrome, Sasol and Atlantis Diesel Engines.
When international trade sanctions began to bite, the government and private sector was quick to gear up for the local manufacture of light and heavy armaments.
Incredibly, within a decade South Africa grew to be one of the largest and most innovative manufacturers of military equipment in the world.
Armscor was the central co-ordinating hub, supplied by hundreds of smaller companies that had developed specific technical abilities and manufacturing skills.
Ironically, a significant percentage of our military exports, were to countries that were opposed to the apartheid regime’s political policies,yet admired our design and manufacturing talents.
Most of these companies are still in business today, and they have the skills required to tackle projects such as the locomotive upgrades.
Many other companies such as Grindrod and even Transnet Engineering have the capability to manufacture most, if not all, of the components required for the locomotives.
Why then, were the foreign bidders not required to supply the only technical expertise required, and up-skill local people to do the actual manufacturing?
This would have left the country with a wealth of skilled and experienced technicians, once the project had been completed.
From the outside, the decisions made by our parastatals appear to be devoid of all financial logic.
We have the mineral resources required in abundance, we have the industrial capacity and huge numbers of people, some highly qualified, desperate for any type of employment, and yet we outsource everything to foreign companies, at a huge cost to the taxpayer.
It did not make sense.
Until now. If the bulk of this project had been awarded to local companies, using South African mineral resources and providing thousands of jobs for local people, it would have been impossible to divert a large percentage of our tax revenue to foreign companies, and from there into the pockets of the Guptas and the Zuma family.
Transnet could have negotiated directly with the companies tendering for the supply of locomotives. Instead, they chose to negotiate the deal with China South Rail (CSR) via a separate entity named Tequesta, for an advisory fee of 21%.
What this essentially means is that Tequesta earns R10 million for every locomotive that China South Rail supplies to Transnet.
Over the period of the contract, the Gupta controlled company will be paid R5.3 billion by the taxpayer, purely for acting as an “advisor” in the deal, something for which Transnet themselves lacked the ability in-house.
As someone who voted for the ANC in the last election, in the belief that they would create jobs for the masses locally, how does that make you feel? Noordheuwel, Mogale City