Johannesburg - Logistics company Transnet will eventually
manufacture its own trains and locomotives, CEO Brian Molefe said in
Johannesburg on Thursday.
"Transnet will be equipped with the knowledge and
skills to be an equipment manufacturer," he said.
"We will build our own locomotives and trains."
He was speaking at a business breakfast hosted by the
American Chamber of Commerce in South Africa.
Transnet had ordered 143 locomotives from General Electric's
local subsidiary. The first 10 of these had been wholly manufactured in the
"During the manufacture, we sent our people to learn
and study how the locomotives are put together."
A manufacturing plant had been set up in South Africa, and
Transnet had begun ordering parts for local assembly rather than complete
locomotives. Some parts were already manufactured locally, such as wheels.
"We have put in an order for cranes for our port
terminals, and we are looking to conclude a similar agreement here," he
Transnet would insist that maintenance, at least, be carried
out in South Africa.
Responding to criticism of the country's high port charges,
he said the group was looking at port charges for containers. Historically,
South Africa had been a bulk exporter of raw materials, particularly minerals.
As a result, bulk prices were kept low, but container prices were high.
Now that the country was industrialising, it was increasingly
exporting containers of manufactured goods.
"We need to encourage container exports," Molefe
South Africa's port charges were perceived as high relative
to other countries because it did not offer subsidies.
"The question we should be asking is, should South
Africa, to be competitive, start subsidising its ports?"
There were arguments for and against subsidies. Subsidies
would take resources away from priorities such as health and education, and
when the government needed to cut spending, charges would go up as subsidies
fell away, Molefe said.