Cape Town –Transnet has just delivered its 100th new railway wagon built for Botswana Rail at its manufacturing plant in Uitenhage.
The state owned rail operator and manufacturer wants to expand its manufacturing business with a specific target being other African countries.
The idea is to focus on constructing and upgrading and refurbishing rolling stock for different customers at Transnet’s different manufacturing plants. These include in addition to Uitenhage, the flagship Koedoespoort in Pretoria, where locomotives are built in partnership with original equipment manufacturers, Salt River in the Western Cape for coaches, wheels and other rolling stock components and Bloemfontein.
The Eastern Cape region is at the centre of Transnet’s plans to accelerate its sales of heavy equipment to the rest of Africa, a plan driven by the minister of public enterprises Malusi Gigaba.
The latest delivery is part of an initial 260-wagon order for these specialised wagons which will transport bulk chemical grade salt from Sua Pan in Botswana to Sasol’s factories in South Africa.
Mboniso Sigonyela, Transnet spokesperson, says Botswana Rail has ordered 562 wagons from Transnet.
“These are designed, engineered and produced at Transnet Rail Engineering’s manufacturing plant in Uitenhage – just outside Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape.”
Speaking at an event to mark the completion of the first batch of wagons, Gigaba said the partnership between Transnet and Botswana Rail signalled the beginning of the new approach to intra-regional co-operation to drive Africa’s economy.
“We will exploit Transnet Rail Engineering’s significant capacity and competence with regards to heavy engineering, especially in rail and port equipment manufacturing to drive Africa’s industrialisation and therefore economic growth,” the minister added.
For Transnet, he said, opportunities or partnerships like these will go a long way towards diversifying Transnet Rail Engineering’s revenue through increased sales to external clients.
Gigaba has developed an Africa strategy to guide state-owned companies under his department, including Transnet, SAA, Eskom and arms manufacturer, Denel. The strategy targets various African countries including Angola, Ghana, Mozambique and Tanzania.
Transnet Rail Engineering in Uitenhage currently employs approximately 1 500 people. Transnet’s Uitenhage and Bloemfontein facilities combined are the largest railway wagon refurbishing and new-build plants in Africa.
Sigonyela says TRE’s Wagon Business, during the financial year 2010/11, refurbished 1 368 freight wagons and built 460 new wagons. Clients, aside from Botswana Rail, include Ghana Railways and Kei Rail.
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