PMB firm in deal bid

2012-10-24 00:00

THE Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa’s (Prasa) announcement of its requirements for the BEE portion of its massive train renewal project could see the involvement of a local business, namely train coach manufacturer Commuter Transport Engineering (CTE).

CTE has an operation at Mason’s Mill in Pietermaritzburg.

Prasa recently announced that it would spend R123 billion on 7 224 coaches over the next 20 years, while also revamping the railway line infrastructure.

A total of 65% of the content must be locally manufactured.

Prasa will use the contract to breathe new life into the local train-building industry and said this would lead to the creation of 65 000 jobs.

Delivery of the first commuter trains is expected in 2015.

Seven tenders have already been received from train manufacturers for the first phase of about R40 billion. It is known that large international companies are among those that have submitted tenders.

It is understood that South African businesses are well placed to supply products and services for various needs, including telecommunications, public address systems, coach seating and flooring, lighting and electronics.

The managing director of CTE, Nwabisa Ntiyane, told The Witness that they have been approached by a number of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to join them in their bids for the mega projects.

“Various OEMs have approached us. I would imagine they have also approached other companies.

“In South Africa, there are four other competitors. The work would involve everything from small components to the main assembly of the rolling stock, which is the main product.

“We are currently doing work on Prasa Rail’s current fleet, through refurbishments and upgrades,” she said.

Ntiyane added that they plan to establish an operation in Johannesburg in the future, adding to existing operations in Pietermaritzburg and Cape Town.

“It would require us to split the work … but there would be huge benefits for KZN.”

She said being part of the winning tender would bring with it a massive financial injection to CTE over the next 15 years.

“It would bring sustainability for jobs and the business as a whole.”

The Pietermaritzburg operation employs about 116 people.

“We are passionate about supporting the youth, and we have been recruiting from the FET College [Further Education and Training].

“About 60% of our staff members have been recruited from the FET College … and we train them up from there.”

She said CTE was well placed to deliver, adding that its BEE credentials would stand it in good stead.

“We are black-owned, and we meet all the BEE criteria. Also, there is true empowerment of women. We see ourselves as leaders in our industry.”

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