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Transnet launches R350bn locomotive ‘for Africans, by Africans’

Apr 04 2017 18:58
Mpho Raborife, News24

Pretoria - Transnet has launched a new locomotive designed, engineered and manufactured in Africa, specifically for conducting business on the continent.

“We are very happy that this is a proudly African locomotive. Made in Africa for African conditions,” Transnet CEO Siyabonga Gama said on Tuesday.

He was speaking at the launch of the parastatal’s Trans-Africa locomotive project in Koedoespoort, east of Pretoria, the brainchild of Transnet’s engineering department.

The locomotive’s prototype was completed last year and had cost Transnet R350bn to create, chief advance manufacturing officer Thamsanqa Jiyane said.

Transnet hoped to sell it to clients across the continent. He would not divulge further details but said three Memorandums of Understandings had already been signed.

Open for business

Gama reiterated their state of readiness for business on the continent.

“We are ready for the African continent. Not only do we make coaches, not only do we make wagons, we also make locomotives,” he said.

This project was one of the company’s moves towards trying to diversify its sources of revenue, Transnet said.

The locomotive was designed for the African landscape, and is suitable for use on branch lines and in the yard for shunting.

“It can be used on old rail tracks originally designed to carry light axle loads. The original underframe, superstructure, bogies, body, and locomotive control system were designed to withstand the African climate,” Transnet said.

President Jacob Zuma, who had attended the launch and cut the ribbon before taking a short trip on the prototype, said state-owned entities such as Transnet had often helped keep the country’s economy afloat during tough times.

“Over the past 10 years, South Africa has grappled with the effects of a global economic downturn. We looked to some of our giant state-owned companies to keep the wheels turning during this difficult period," he said.

“Companies such as Transnet and Eskom, with combined assets of more than R800bn, not only employ masses of our people but also, crucially, drive infrastructure development.”

Zuma said the entities were at the forefront of technical innovation and the development of valuable African markets.

“What Transnet is showing us today is that it has the skills and foresight to extend itself beyond its traditional strengths to include new value-added services in the logistics supply chain,” Zuma said.

He added the engineers responsible for the project had many years of experience in modifying locomotives to meet unique African conditions. 

"The Trans-Africa Locomotive development presented an opportunity to put their great pool of knowledge into practice, and they have done us very proud," Zuma said.

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