Business Media Mags: Train-maker Gibela is confident it can meet the terms of its R51-billion contract to deliver 600 newly built train sets to the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa by 2029, says CEO Hector Danisa.
Gibela’s operations at its manufacturing plant in Dunnottar, Nigel, will soon get back on track, he says. The plant was closed for more than a month earlier this year due to Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. The supply chain, local and international, continues to pose a major challenge as suppliers battle to overcome delays caused by measures taken to curb the spread of Covid-19.
“Each year of operation at Dunnottar, before the pandemic, we more than trebled our output. We aim to manufacture 50 trains for Prasa in 2022,” Danisa says. “We are in a lucky, good space. I think we’ll have a whole lot of exciting things to achieve in the next few years.”
Gibela has already produced 43 of the new passenger trains for which it has a R51-billion contract with the government, via the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa). Twenty of the trains were manufactured in Brazil.
Gibela was formed in 2013 as a black economic empowerment consortium – the Gibela Rail Transport Consortium – comprising French rail company Alstom and South Africa’s Ubumbano Rail and New Africa Rail. Gibela also has a contract to deliver post-delivery train maintenance and technical support to Prasa, and to manufacture and supply spare parts.
Passenger rail has an important part to play in South Africa’s public transport plans, Danisa says.
South Africa has a fast-growing population and is urbanising rapidly. The country needs to provide its citizens with access to affordable, efficient and safe transport modes, as set out in the National Development Plan, Danisa says.
As density in cities and large towns rises over the next 20 to 30 years, passenger rail will be needed to reduce congestion on internal roads, and also between centres.
Also, Danisa points out, international organisations such as the United Nations are calling for countries across the world to ensure their recovery from the economic damage wrought by Covid-19 is planned with climate change in mind. Passenger rail is an important part of a greener future.