Gama appointed acting CEO of Transnet

Johannesburg - Transnet appointed Siyabonga Gama on Monday as the acting CEO of the ports and rail utility after Brian Molefe was seconded to head Eskom, which is struggling to meet demand.

Gama has headed Transnet’s freight rail unit since February 2011, his second appointment to the position after a review of his dismissal in June 2010 for governance breaches. He first joined the company in 1994, Transnet said.

“My job is to galvanize the executive team, to make sure that we steer the ship, that we keep it on course and we continue our plans,” Gama said by phone. “We already have a business plan for the 2015/16 financial year. We have to take that and make sure that we execute.”

Transnet is buying more than a 1 000 new locomotives from manufacturers such as General Electric and China South Rail to support a 109% growth in the number of containers on rail in South Africa since 2006. Coal volumes increased 4.3% to 43.7 million tonnes for the six-months through September, compared with the same period in 2013, the company said in a statement in October.

Transnet plans to start transporting fast-moving consumer goods to offset a decline in commodity prices, Gama said. Iron ore has weakened 28% since the beginning of the year.

“We are now able to get into markets that are time sensitive because our rail and reliability has improved,” Gama said, whose appointment is for an initial term of three months. “We will see what happens after that.”

“He is an experienced and highly regarded executive, both within and outside Transnet,” the Johannesburg-based logistics company said on its Facebook account on Monday.

Transnet is in the third year of a seven-year, R312.2bn plan to increase rail and port capacity to end transportation bottlenecks in the country.

He and Molefe presided over an improvement in rail services to South Africa’s coal industry.

Molefe was appointed as acting CEO of the state-owned power producer Eskom on April 17.

"We wish to advise you that ... the longest-serving member of the executive team will act as Transnet’s Group Chief Executive with immediate effect," Transnet wrote on Facebook.

"On behalf of all of us at Transnet Engineering, we wish to thank Mr Gama for accepting this challenging task. He is guaranteed of our unwavering support."

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