PRASA Marks Production of 200th Electric Train in Gauteng

South Africa’s Rail Network Modernization Efforts Advances

by Ikeoluwa Juliana Ogungbangbe

The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) has achieved a significant milestone in its Rolling Stock Fleet Renewal Programme by producing the 200th Electric Multiple Unit (EMU) in Gauteng. This event marks a significant step towards PRASA’s goal of introducing 600 modern, high-tech trains to improve the rail network across South Africa.

At a ceremony in Cape Town, Minister of Transport Sindisiwe Chikunga emphasized the importance of these new trains, stating that “These trains represent a substantial progression in our commitment to reducing carbon emissions and promoting sustainable transportation.”

These EMUs are part of a broader initiative aimed at not only modernizing the country’s transportation infrastructure but also creating jobs and developing skills. The manufacturing of these new trains is expected to generate around 1,500 direct and 8,000 indirect jobs over the next decade.

During the initial phase of the project, the construction of the R1 billion factory created 1,631 direct jobs. Gibela, the manufacturing company involved, has employed over 1,198 full-time staff, with many of these jobs going to residents of local communities such as Duduza, Vosloorus, Katlehong, Kwa-Thema, Tsakane, and Alfra-Park, providing significant employment opportunities to those in need.

Gibela has employed 1,205 people in manufacturing and maintenance roles, with 37% of these employees coming from the communities surrounding the factories. This initiative shows the government’s focus on creating jobs and fostering community development and local economic growth.

The Minister emphasized the government’s commitment to skills development and knowledge transfer as part of this project. Around 20,000 training programs have launched to improve the skills of employees at all levels, from top management to unskilled workers. In 2019, Gibela Rail collaborated with the Small Enterprise Development Agency and the City of Ekurhuleni to establish a business incubator in Kwa-Thema Township, which opened in 2020. This incubator has supported 140 Small Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) through training, mentoring, and coaching, with an additional 193 SMMEs receiving business development support.

Moreover, Gibela offers various educational opportunities, including bursaries for university and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) college students, internships, learnerships, apprenticeships, and a railway introduction course, among other relevant programs. These initiatives aim to cultivate a new generation of skilled professionals who will contribute to the welfare of their families, communities, and the broader South African society.

Since the program’s inception, 1,665 bursars have been contracted, with over R127 million invested in their education. Additionally, R135 million has been allocated to Enterprise and Supplier Development initiatives to support SMMEs, and a staggering R743 million has been invested in skills development to ensure inclusivity in the rail sector. Over the course of the project, Gibela is committed to training and developing 19,500 individuals in various capacities, including engineers, artisans, technicians, and technologists.

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