Chinese automaker’s SA plant ‘on track’

31 July 2013

Construction of Chinese manufacturer First Automotive Works’ truck assembly plant at the Coega industrial development zone in the Eastern Cape is on track for completion by the first quarter of 2014 at the latest, the Coega Development Corporation said on Tuesday.

The R200-million plant is the first phase of a R600-million investment – the first foreign direct investment in the Coega IDZ – that will eventually include plants for manufacturing light commercial and passenger vehicles.

Coega Development Corporation (CDC) spokesperson Ayanda Vilakazi told SAinfo on Tuesday that the original December 2013 completion target could still be met, notwithstanding delays caused by the weather and other factors. Failing this, the plant would be completed in the first quarter of 2014.

Lead contractor WBHO Construction’s Eastern Cape managing director, Arnie van Jaarsveldt, said in a CDC statement on Tuesday that the top structures of the plant would be complete and the shell of the building completely enclosed by mid-August.

He said a 50-strong installation crew would also arrive from China in August for the installation of the plant machinery followed by the testing and commissioning phase.

Van Jaarsveldt said there had been significant collaboration between the Chinese engineers and their South African counterparts working on the plant, representing “a coup for skills development and mentorship”.

Construction of the truck assembly plant, which covers 10 hectares, will create about 2 000 jobs over the entire construction phase. In its operational phase, the plant is expected to produce 5 000 trucks annually, creating a further 280 permanent jobs.

In the same statement on Tuesday, Vilakazi said that, according to the CDC’s preliminary results for the financial year, the state-owned corporation had attracted eight new investors in 2012/13 and generated revenue through external projects and services of R290-million, while creating 13 596 direct and indirect jobs and providing training to 13 607 people.

SAinfo reporter