Pretoria - Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba
on Monday unveiled the latest locomotive to enter service with Transnet as part of its R93.5bn capitalisation scheme.
Neither Transnet nor General Electric would say how much each locomotive would cost.
In terms of the deal, 10 of the General Electric C30ACi locomotives will be built in the United States and 90 will be built at Koedoespoort over the next two years.
It was not the company's "policy" to disclose the price of the locomotives, said GE president and chief executive of transportation Lorenzo Simonelli.
Gigaba said the locomotives were part of Transnet's fleet renewal plan and the company's R93.5bn five-year capital investment programme, which could be increased to R110bn.
According to Transnet and GE, three of the locomotives would have the same hauling power of four of the older locomotives in use and would save about 600 000 litres of fuel a year.
The locomotives would also be more environmentally friendly, producing less carbon dioxide than older models, and would be known locally as GE class 43 locomotives.
They are the first of their kind in Africa to use AC electric power.
"The many years of neglect of public investment in infrastructure capacity has created a very (sic) untenable situation for economic growth and development, and impacted negatively on jobs and skills development, especially those of artisans and apprentices as well as the country's local industrial and manufacturing capability," said Gigaba.
He said neglect of the rail network had denied the country many economic opportunities and economic capacity.
The neglect, which had taken place since 1992, had reduced the capacity of the manufacturing sector to export and to distribute between the country's economic hubs.
He said that even the current investment in infrastructure was "not at levels that we would like to see it at."
The improvement in the country's rail infrastructure would also help to take pressure off the country's roads.
Gigaba said he would like to see Transnet achieve employment equity targets, because failure by state-owned enterprises would send a poor signal to the private sector.
"Failure by state-owned enterprises to transform undermines and puts the brakes on the government's transformation objectives in the broader corporate sector, as the latter feels no pressure to transform if the former is not itself transformed. We are going to demand concrete action in this regard," he said.