Media coverage

Gibela lines up SA suppliers for trains

Publication: IOL

Gibela, the consortium led by French global engineering firm Alstom that won a tender to deliver 600 commuter train sets to the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa), has started lining up almost 100 local suppliers from whom it will source more than two-thirds of the raw materials and components for the contract.

Marc Granger, the chief executive, said Gibela was targeting 70 percent local content in an effort to revitalise the South African economy and develop local suppliers.

“This is first and foremost a South African contract. Although Alstom is a 61 percent shareholder in Gibela, Prasa has made it very clear that this project should be designed to involve and benefit South Africans. And we are 100 percent comfortable with that.”

Gibela was officially launched on Wednesday.

Pamella Radebe, a spokeswoman for Gibela, said local suppliers had been pre-selected for potential vetting. She said 11 letters of intent had been sent out for the supply of steel, cables, lights, interiors, connectors and insulation, and four contracts had been signed.

The contract over 10 years is worth R51 billion.

Radebe said Siyahamba Engineering, based in Germiston, was one of the companies already contracted. It had 28 years experience in rail sector manufacturing.

She said it had been awarded a contract for the manufacturing of drivers’ cab doors for the first 200 trains over a four-year period.

A further contract for additional work was currently under negotiation.

Siyahamba is 90 percent-owned by black people, of whom 10 percent are women.

Alstom’s partners in Gibela are black-owned companies Ubumbano Rail, which holds 39 percent, and New Africa Rail with the remaining 9 percent shareholding.

Radebe said Siyahamba supplied 90 percent of train doors to the local market (Prasa, Transnet, China South Rail and General Electric), although the product range had grown over the years to include a number of train-related components, including train windows.

Gibela said South African artisans and engineers would work with experienced teams in Brazil, where the first 20 trains will be manufactured using a significant percentage of South African content.

This was part of the skills transfer that was necessary for the local build of the remaining 580 trains, it said.

As skills development and training was central to its strategy, Gibela said, an initial group of 12 South African experienced engineers had begun training in Alstom sites in France to equip it with the specialised technical skills needed, so Gibela could deliver on the contract.

“The 18-month development programme will impart knowledge of train design disciplines; create a comprehensive understanding of the main train functions and how they are composed in Alstom trains; facilitate the study of detailed design solutions adopted for the X’Trapolis and MEGA (train models) and transfer know-how to enable the engineers to become design authorities in their own right,” Gibela said.

It said these engineers, currently based in Paris, would later receive more hands-on learning and experience at different sites in France, Italy, Belgium, Spain and Brazil, according to their specialities and the nature of the work performed at the various train development sites.