Media releases

Gibela begins localisation programme

Gibela1, the South African rail company launched today, is committed to fulfilling the local content requirements for the rolling stock project commissioned by the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA).

Marc Granger, CEO of Gibela, said the company was targeting 70% local content in an effort to revitalise the South African economy and develop local supply chains. "This is first and foremost a South African contract," he said. "Although Alstom is a 61% shareholder in Gibela, PRASA has made it very clear that this project should be designed to involve and benefit South Africans. And we are 100% comfortable with that."

Securing South African suppliers to source the raw materials and components for the 600 commuter trains to be manufactured over a 10-year period began well before the contract was awarded to Gibela. Granger explained that Gibela made a business decision that paid off. "We knew we wanted to involve South African suppliers and so we began the process of identifying suitable companies while we were busy with the tender," he said. "In some cases, we even began the processes necessary to raise their product specifications to international standards.

"Had Gibela not been awarded the contract, Alstom, as Gibela's majority shareholder, would have considered this investment as a contribution to South Africa because the company has conducted business here for more than a century," said Granger.

Nearly 100 local suppliers have already been pre-selected for potential vetting and further negotiations. Eleven letters of intent (for steel, cables, lights, interiors, connectors and insulation) and four contracts have been signed to date.

Siyahamba Engineering (Pty) Ltd (Siyahamba), one of the companies already contracted, has 28 years of rail sector manufacturing experience. Germiston-based, Siyahamba has been awarded a contract for the manufacture of drivers' cab doors for the first 200 trains over a four-year period. A further contract for additional scope of work is currently under negotiation. Today the company is 90% black-owned, with black women comprising 10% of that figure. Siyahamba supplies 90% of the train doors for the local market (PRASA, Transnet, China South Rail and GE) although the product range has grown over the years to include a number of other train-related components, including train windows.

Siyahamba CEO, Douglas Chauke, explained that 85% of the 165 employees are unskilled, with artisans and skilled workers comprising the balance. Twenty-five women work on the factory floor and are involved in core business activities.

According to Chauke some 12 employees have already been hired to deal with the additional work created by the project and he estimates that in the next 10 years a further 110 individuals will be hired as production ramps up to 62 trains a year.

While Gibela's own requirements are for skilled employees and artisans to assemble the trains, Chauke explained that suppliers such as Siyahamba are more likely to have the capacity to employ unskilled labour. "We have very experienced artisans and supervisors who provide on-the-job training and we also send our employees for specialised training with our suppliers and other recognised training institutions. This means that we can create jobs and upskill people at the same time," he said.

Gibela has very high quality expectations and all safety and technical specifications are to international standards. Chauke said that although Siyahamba was a market leader in South Africa, they soon discovered that local standards fell short of what was required. "It has been an important and illuminating learning curve for us," he said. "Siyahamba had some of the capabilities to deliver what was required. But lowering standards was never an option. Instead, Gibela and Alstom have worked with and supported us and there is no question that the company and our employees have benefited as a result. And our intention is to play this forward as we work with our supply chain in the years ahead to deliver on this very exciting project that will touch the lives of millions of South Africans."

1 Gibela is a joint venture led by Alstom and owned by a suite of local shareholders made up of Ubumbano Rail and New Africa Rail.

Additional facts
  • The train cabin doors will be manufactured mainly from aluminium. The cab lining will also be made of aluminium. All the raw materials and components are being sourced locally and mostly from existing suppliers, creating a knock-on effect in terms of additional jobs to meet higher production demands.
  • Manufacture of the cabin doors has not yet commenced: Siyahamba is still working on the prototypes.

Photographs available on the Gibela website from noon in the Media section.

For more information please contact:
On behalf of Gibela:
Pamella Radebe +27 83 277 8766 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Office tel: +27 11 518 8232  
Russell and Associates:
James Duncan +27 79 336 4010 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Leigh King +27 83 418 8973 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Pam McLeod +27 82 872 6387 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Office tel: +27 11 880 3924  

GIBELA 2014. All rights reserved. Information contained in this document is indicative only. No representation or warranty is given or should be relied on that it is complete or correct or will apply to any particular project. This will depend on the technical and commercial circumstances. It is provided without liability and is subject to change without notice. Reproduction, use or disclosure to third parties, without express written authority, is strictly prohibited.

About Gibela

Gibela is a South African rail company born out of a consortium that was awarded PRASA's 10-year rolling stock programme to design, manufacture and deliver 600 passenger trains. The company will establish a state-of-the art manufacturing facility in Ekurhuleni, Gauteng; localise the manufacture of components for the new fleet and create jobs on a sizeable scale. In tandem with managing local content of more than 65%; Gibela will facilitate the development of local rail-sector relevant skills and the transfer of technical know-how. As Gibela's majority shareholder and major supplier, Alstom will play a significant role in the transfer of historical technological expertise in suburban rail transport which includes the robust design-proven X'Trapolis family and it's X'Trapolis Mega (MEtric GAuge) − a safe, reliable and comfortable train, specifically designed for South Africa.