Transnet shapes up as exporter

Transnet‘s plan to carve out an export orientated business from its operations seems to be taking shape.

The state owned enterprise (SOE), Transnet, announced this week, the shipping to Mozambique of locomotives and passenger coaches manufactured at its heavy engineering and manufacturing unit.

The SOE said the developments around, Transnet Engineering, represents the gathering of momentum of a strategy to expand into the rest of Africa. Transnet’s engineering, rolling stock manufacturing and maintenance division, was previously primarily focused on servicing Transnet Freight Rail’s fleet of locomotives and wagons and manufacturing of coaches for the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa).

The locomotives and coaches, which were shipped from the company’s facilities at the Port of Durban, are part of multi-million dollar orders from Corredor De Desenvolvimento Do Norte (CDN) and Central East African Railways (CEAR). The orders were for the supply of 10 Class 33 locomotives and 21 passenger coaches.

CDN operates in Mozambique and CEAR operates in Malawi. The train sets will be used in CDN’s railway network of 872km running from Nacala to the country’s border with Malawi. The company also operates on a branch line in Cuamba to Litchinga and a passenger train service between Nampula and Cuamba in Mozambique’s north east region.

Transnet Engineering manufactured the train sets at its plants in Koedoespoort, east of Pretoria and Salt River in Cape Town. The train sets have completed Transnet’s extensive comprehensive testing and commissioning programmes to ensure that all equipment and systems comply with customers’ specifications.

Transnet said it was on course to establish itself as a centre of engineering excellence on the continent. Transnet Engineering has manufactured rolling stock for some of the continent’s leading rail operators. This includes the supply of 560 specialised wagons to Botswana Rail; supply of 95 wagons to mining giant Rio Tinto for use in its coal mining operations in Mozambique and wagons to South African mining firm Exxaro’s operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo among others.

Transnet CE Brian Molefe said “We have set aside in excess of R4 billion for research and development, a significant part of which is focused on what our peers on the continent need. We’re already reaping the benefits of this focus through an ever-expanding range of rolling stock products and crucially, a comprehensive list of satisfied customers.”

“The mix of the contract awards is also encouraging with some following open tender processes in which we compete with some of the leading global manufacturers – including original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), while a significant number is through referrals and invitations. The latter is further evidence of our growing reputation as a manufacturer among our customers”.

Transnet added that in line with its commitment to the development of local suppliers and commitment to various government-led initiatives like the Competitive Supplier Development Programme, Transnet Engineering outsourced a significant portion of the work to emerging businesses. These include Rolling Stock Rail Services (RSRS), which was awarded a contract to paint and conversion of seats, and PROSEAT who supplied seats for the coaches and locos – both are based in East London, in the Eastern Cape.

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