GE locomotive deal ‘boost for skills’

22 February 2011

Transnet’s procurement of 100 General Electric locomotives is not only in line with the state logistics company’s massive capital investment programme, but will also help develop skills thanks to local manufacturing of the majority of the locomotives, says Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba.

Gigaba was speaking in Pretoria on Monday, at a ceremony where Transnet officially received the first two of the locomotives, purchased from the American industrial giant’s local subsidiary, GE South Africa Technologies (GESAT).

“Jobs, skills development – especially engineering and technical skills, localisation of manufacturing of equipment and ensuring that our logistics infrastructure works efficiently – are some of the key deliverables on which we are to be judged,” he said.

“The agreement between Transnet and General Electric will go a long way towards ensuring that our state-owned entities play a significant role in advancing the goals of our New Growth Path.”

Promoting local industrial development

The first 10 locomotives will be built at the GE plants in the United States, while the other 90 will be assembled at Transnet Rail Engineering’s manufacturing facilities in Koedoespoort, Gauteng, with GE supplying Transnet with all major components including engines.

The Koedoespoort plant was upgraded and some of its employees received training at GE facilities in the United States, Mexico and Australia.

The manufacturing arrangement is as a result of the Competitive Supplier Development Programme, an initiative to encourage localisation of manufacturing, skills development and sustainable employment.

It also helps Transnet achieve its long-term objective to localise the supply chain of imported manufactured goods or services to a reasonable level, while also promoting the development of local industries.

“We are pleased to partner with Transnet to turn its vision of 21st century rail freight transport into reality. This partnership allows us to bring leading rail technology to South Africa while contributing to world-class skills development in the region,” said GE Transportation CEO Lorenzo Simonelli.

Improving productivity, safety, efficiency

The locomotives are the first AC diesel locomotives to be introduced in sub-Saharan Africa. They are to be used on the coal line and general freight business of Transnet Freight Rail and are part of company’s fleet renewal plan and R93.5-billion, five-year capital investment programme.

Transnet chairman Mafika Mkwanazi said locomotive fleet renewal was central to the company’s drive to improve productivity, safety and efficiency of assets and people: “In addition to the obvious benefits of a significantly reduced average age of Transnet Freight Rail’s fleet, this enables us to showcase our technical ability through our engineering division,” he said.

“It also gives us an opportunity to develop our engineering, technical and manufacturing skills in partnership with a leader in this field.”

Source: BuaNews