Company News

Gibela factory on track for March completion, says new CEO

2017.12.11 (Extract from Engineering News Article)

Construction of the Gibela plant, in Dunnottar on the far East Rand, is on track for completion in March next year, says Gibela Rail Transport Consortium CEO Thierry Darthout.

Darthout, former Gibela operations VP, took over the reins from Marc Granger on August 1. The 53-year-old is a mechanical engineer by training, and has worked for Alstom for 19 years in various fields.

Alstom Southern Africa is the majority shareholder in Gibela (61%), while BEE partners New Africa Rail and Ubumbano Rail hold 9% and 30%  respectively.

“We are in the process of commissioning the industrial equipment at the plant,” says Darthout. “The first locally built train should be delivered to the client in December 2018.”

The Gibela consortium has to deliver 600 new X'Ttrapolis Mega commuter trains (3 600 cars) to the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) in a R59-billion deal signed and sealed in 2014. Local content on the trains is promised to be between 65% to 70%, by volume.

Darthout says a particular challenge in providing the 600 new trains is that Gibela will have to build one train car a day in 2019, at the peak of production.

“And we’ll have to do this in a brand new factory with new staff and a new supplier base.”

The technology used to produce the trains, however, is well-proved and tested within the Alstom group.

Gibela has already identified and developed 100 local component suppliers for the project.

Some of these 100 companies will supply Gibela directly, while others will supply Alstom Ubunye, which will, in turn, provide a number of components to Gibela.

These components include bogies, traction systems, converters, control systems and looming.

Alstom Ubunye is the former Nigel-based Commuter Transport & Locomotive Engineering. Alstom acquired 51% of the rolling stock refurbishment business in 2016.

Community Pressure

Another challenge that Darthout remains acutely aware of, is one emanating from the communities surrounding the Dunnottar plant.

“These communities have high expectations of business and job opportunities and we are doing our best to manage these expectations,” says Darthout.

The plant project has already seen community protests, demanding increased local involvement in the project. A dedicated Gibela team manages community affairs at the plant.

Employment at the plant will reach 630 people by March next year, peaking at 1 000 people, excluding employment at component manufacturers.

Trencon has been awarded phase 1 A of Montrose City Mega Development R11bn revitalisation programme on track in Randfontein

2017-11-11: Extract from City Press Article

Premier of Gauteng, David Makhura (second from right), Gauteng Human Settlements MEC, Paul Mashatile and Chief executive of SCM Properties and Development, Sam Mhlaba breaking ground on the R11bn revitalisation programme. Picture: Setumo Stone                 

On the outskirts of the small Randfontein town in the West Rand of Gauteng, an old train station stands virtually forgotten. It was last used by rail parastatal Transnet while agribusiness giant Senwes, with its 10 silos next to the station, has been the sole user of the Middelvlei rail line.

But this week the Gauteng government set in motion a grand plan to refurbish the obscure station near Kocksoord into an economic hub. The R11 billion investment aims to stimulate the economy in the Rand West municipality, which suffered when the gold mines and related businesses closed down simultaneously.

Speaking on Tuesday at the launch of the new Montrose City Mega Development, which would use Middelvlei as the economic anchor of its residential and commercial developments, Gauteng Premier David Makhura said that renewing the railway line to ensure that people can move faster was a part of government’s multifaceted intervention to transform the economic landscape of the West Rand.

Montrose is among the 31 Mega Cities Projects that the Gauteng government is rolling out across the province as part of its vision to build smart cities – driven by broadband technology, energy efficiency and other smart solutions – that are able to cater to the needs of its residential and commercial residents.

The turnkey developer is SCM Properties and Development and other companies involved in the project include audit firm Sizwe Ntsaluba Gobodo, engineering firm SMEC and legal firm Adams & Adams, as well as empowerment partners like Nungu Marketing.

Makhura said this week that “when government is building houses, it also takes cognisance of the fact that people must be able to work in and around the place where they stay”. He said that there should be job opportunities for the locals both during the construction of the project and after its conclusion.

Chief executive of SCM Properties and Development Sam Mhlaba said an integrated transport system of buses and taxis would form part of Middelvlei’s revival, adding that this would also link to the Cape Town train that passed in the area.

Prasa, currently operating a passenger rail starting in Randfontein, was earmarked to be the main operator of the passenger station that once complete would include a 20,000 square metre shopping centre, Mhlaba said.

“We are speaking to them (Prasa) and they are open to the idea of including Middelvlei in their routes,” he said, adding that there would be a sufficient market to make a business case for Prasa once the project is completed.

“This development is going to have close to 14,000 units once complete. With a conservative average of five people per household we estimate that will have a population of up to 70,000 using the train and other means of transport. That is enough of a market to reopen the station,” he said.

He said the envisioned economic development around the station, through partnership with Transnet, would cater for light industries like the production of tissues as well as heavy industries like the maintenance of trucks. Transnet would also have a role to play in bringing in companies that would use its services.

Mhlaba said it was likely to cost up to R1bn to reopen the station.

“We are trying to create a market even for the regional retail developers”.

The first phase of the project included 5 602 units consisting of 1 608 RDP house, 174 houses for military veterans, 1 225 bonded units, 1 915 social housing units and 680 rental units – plus a primary and a high school, a business zone and a government complex. The second phase would include another two schools, an FET college, a private hospital and a regional hospital.

Gibela train facility is halfway finished


Gibela has reached the 50 per cent completion milestone of the construction of its train manufacturing facility in Dunnottar, exactly one year into the project.


In total, 822 jobs have been created by Gibela’s construction programme at the Dunnottar factory site, 716 of which have been filled by people from neighbouring communities. Of the 576 currently active construction jobs, 493 have been filled by local people.

The Gibela train facility is where 580 commuter trains will be built for the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) to replace their aging stock.

“The factory, the first and only of its kind on the continent, will, at peak production, manufacture 62 trains a year,” says Vuyiswa Tlomatsane, Gibela’s construction director.

The manufacturing facility consists of the main factory where the trains will be assembled, a training centre where South Africans will augment their rail-related technical skills, testing facilities for static and dynamic testing, and a 27 hectare supplier park.

The construction programme is divided into eight packages and all contractors have been on-boarded.

Tlomatsane says packages one and two are now at advanced stages of completion, with the other six packages at various stages of equipment installation.

All packages are due to be completed by the end of 2017.

“It is expected the manufacture of the first car body shell will start as soon as all the industrial equipment has been tested, commissioned and the buildings have met and satisfied all regulatory requirements, resulting in the issuance of occupation certificates,” he says.

Pamela Radebe, communications manager at Gibela, says: “In total, 822 jobs have been created by the construction programme, 716 of which have been filled by people from neighbouring communities.

“Of the 576 currently active construction jobs, 493 have been filled by local people.”

Gibela has also completed the first round of recruitment of full-time employees at the facility, successfully filling all 49 skilled and semi-skilled boilermaker and welder posts – as planned – with historically disadvantaged (HD) applicants from 13 communities neighbouring the plant.

To date, 73 learnerships and apprenticeships for the training centre have also been filled with historically disadvantaged applicants from Ekurhuleni metro communities.

In March, local HD small, medium and micro-sized enterprises (SMME), suppliers of plastering, painting, tiling and carpentry services submitted their profiles in order to be considered for work on the plant. A number of appointments have been made to 100% black and youth owned SMMEs while others have been shortlisted. Gibela has spent R128 million on local SMMEs to date.

“We believe communication with stakeholders is a priority and hold monthly meetings at our Stakeholder Engagement Forum,” says Radebe.

Potain looms large over Village Walk



The five cranes strategically positioned between the high rise buildings at the Village Walk give an indication of the sheer extent of another important building project under way in Sandton.

By mid-July, the building contractors had already tackled approximately 10% of the works, which comprises a new commercial and retail development in Gauteng’s business hub.

Prominent South African property developer, Eris Property Group, has contracted a joint venture between Trencon Construction and Aveng Grinaker-LTA Building to construct the two new office towers that make up this development.

Toni Flavio, operations director of Trencon Construction, says this is an extremely strategic project for the building contractor, and the largest project the company has undertaken to date.

Flavio is confident that this will be yet another successful project completed by the JV, as both companies have experience working in tandem. The two contractors have a solid portfolio of successfully completed high-rise projects, and have worked together in Sandton before.

“I believe one of the strengths of this partnership is that both companies have a very similar business culture. And this is one of the reasons why we decided to tender for the works in a JV again,” Flavio says.

One of the complexities on this project is the immense work involved in building the two large office towers in one of the busiest areas of Sandton. Together, both structures have a large footprint of 16, 000m² in an impressive excavation that challenged the geotechnical contractors ahead of the arrival of the construction JV.

The biggest tower has a footprint of 9, 000m² at basement level. Once completed, this building will comprise seven basements, two floors of retail space, 13 floors of offices and a roof structure. It will be occupied by MMI.

This is the second tower to be tackled by the JV. It flanks the existing Nedbank building, and calls for the careful planning and coordination of material handling and lifting activities considering the tight project schedule. The main materials handling tasks are being undertaken using a Potain MC 125 tower crane.

Trencon’s senior site agent, Ernst Bezuidenhout, says during the initial stages of the build, the tower crane had to be erected with a 30m jib due to its very close proximity to the adjacent building.

Potain has designed its tower cranes to accommodate different combinations of five metre and 10m jib sections. Specifically, the Potain MC 125 can be erected in a 60m, 55m, 50m, 40m and 30m jib configuration, a benefit that was a major advantage on this particular project site.

At the end of July, the tower crane was anchored and jacked to about 54m, sufficient height to adequately clear the neighbouring structures.

The crane will be raised five times over the duration of the contract. The next jack will take place in mid-September when the crane will be raised to a height of 68m and the JV reaches the first floor of the structure. The jib will be removed using a mobile crane and extended to 60 m to allow the required reach for materials handling activities across the construction site. By August 2017, the crane will reach its final height of 123m.

From the outset, the Potain MC 125 has been servicing the construction requirements of the main elevator shaft. The tower crane handles the extensive formwork, concrete and reinforcement needed to build the structural elements of the tower.

At the same time, it is tasked with lifting and placing the five ton hydraulic boom pump with its counterweights at the work face. Here, a preformed steel system, using hydraulic shutters, that is able to jack two platforms at a time is being used to build the 13m by 7m elevator shaft, fireman’s lift and fire escape stairway

Limited space means that this project is reliant on just-in-time delivery of critical building materials to the laydown area. These activities are being coordinated by a dedicated logistics manager on the construction site. 

Certainly adding to Flavio’s confidence on this build is the JV’s strong team of subcontractors and supply chain partners, which are able to abide by these strict schedules. Flavio says that the JV’s partners were carefully selected based on their sound performance in the South African construction industry.

“We look for an ability to supply us with a top quality service. This is vital, considering that our business relationships are based on mutual trust and performance,” he says.

This is exactly why Trencon Construction uses SA French for all its tower crane requirements. The company has been doing business with the subsidiary of Torre Industries for the past five years.

Flavio says the Potain brand has always inspired confidence in the company to build complex high-rise projects.

“Building 30 storey structures is a complex activity. You need to be sure that when you embark on such a project you have the correct equipment, as this can make or break a contract,” he says.

In addition to Potain being a revered international tower crane brand, Flavio says the technical after-sales support provided by SA French has played a critical role on all Trencon Construction’s projects. The building contractor also relies on SA French for all its tower crane erection and dismantling services.

Trencon Construction only buys new cranes from SA French, allowing it to enjoy the full warranties that come with the new equipment.

The Potain MC 125 is the latest tower crane in Trencon Construction’s fleet. This is only this tower crane’s second project and it was mobilised from a recently completed project in Kimberley, Northern Cape, to this site this year.

Sandton remains a growth node and important source of work for the South African construction industry. It is easy to identify who dominates this hotspot by just looking to the sky, as there’s bound to be Potain livery associated with the heavy lifting.

Train plant construction ‘on track’, says Gibela

22.09.2016: Construction work at the site of Gibela’s R1-billion train factory in Dunnottar   

The construction of Gibela’s R1-billion train factory at Dunnottar, in Ekurhuleni, is on schedule, says the rail consortium in a project update.

Gibela has been contracted to supply the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa with 600 new passenger trains, in a deal worth R51-billion.

The first 20 trains are being imported from Brazil, with the remaining 580 to be built at the Dunnottar site. Gibela will also provide maintenance and engineering services at the facility, as well as training in railway-specific artisan skills.

Construction work on the Dunnottar facility is divided into seven packages, namely plant rescue, site clearance, bulk earthworks and civil infrastructure; main site buildings; supplier park buildings; rail infrastructure; electrical reticulation and equipment; mechanical; and cranes.

To kick off package one, Trencon Construction, Gibela’s contractor for site clearance, bulk earthworks and civil infrastructure, was tasked with an indigenous plant rescue operation.

With the help of Xihungaso Construction Services, a black women-owned construction services company, Trencon Construction appointed a workforce of mostly disabled workers and safely removed more than 10 000 indigenous plant species from the Dunnottar site.

When the construction programme is complete, the indigenous plant species will be replanted on site.

Once this was completed, Trencon Construction began site clearance, as well as bulk earthworks development of the civil infrastructure. This included mass earthworks, fencing and hydrology.

Work on package two is currently in progress. This package is the most extensive in terms of time and employment.

The tender to complete package two was awarded to a joint venture (JV) between Trencon Construction and Black Jills Engineering.

The JV has to complete the main site buildings, including the training centre.

The foundations for the main site buildings have already been laid, and construction teams have started to set up the steel structures of the main site buildings.

“This major milestone of structural steel installations to the foundations started towards the end of August,” says Gibela construction manager Vernon Colbert.

“We are faced with very tight deadlines to accommodate the industrialised fit-out of the different workshops, but we are on track.”

Gibela says work packages five, six and seven will be awarded soon.

The 4 000 m2 training centre has to accept people by October, with the first manufacturing building to be completed in March next year.

Train production is set to start in the second quarter of 2017.

Around 400 workers are currently employed on the Dunnottar site, with around 50% of these workers recruited from neighbouring areas such as Kwa-Thema, Duduza and Tsakane.

Project Launch: Women's Living Heritage Monument


09.08.2016: Pretoria – President Jacob Zuma unveiled the Women’s Living Heritage Monument at Lillian Ngoyi Square in Pretoria on Tuesday 9 August 2016.

The monument tells the story of women’s contribution to the liberation struggle and features four statues of the heroic stalwarts, Rahima Moosa, Helen Joseph, Lillian Ngoyi, Sophie De Bruyn (statues below).

The four women lead a march to the Union Buildings 60 years ago today, where thousands of women from all parts of the country delivered a petition to the then Prime Minister, JG Strijdom, against the carrying of dompasses and the degradation of African women.

National Women’s Day, being celebrated on Tuesday, marks the 60th anniversary since the historic march took place.

The Women’s Living Heritage Monument also has a leadership development and training centre and dedicated walls for murals, artworks and artefacts. These tell the story of women’s struggles covering more than a hundred years.

Minister in the Presidency responsible for Women, Susan Shabangu said the day was an exciting but emotional reflection of the country’s history - where it has come from and what women have done to contribute to where it is today.

“This day is very significant … women once more are gathered here to witness the opening of the living monument, where people can see the contribution of women across colour lines,” said Minister Shabangu.

She challenged women, especially young women, to visit the monument in order to reflect and inform their destiny.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and Sophie De Bruyn were among those who attended the unveiling and toured the monument.

President Zuma led the National Women’s Day celebration at the Union Buildings.

Project Launch: Gibela Main Manufacturing Plant

02.06.2016: Trencon Black Jills joint venture has been awarded the R400-million contract to build the main site buildings at its Dunnottar train manufacturing plant, on the East Rand.

With completion of environmentally sensitive site-clearing in February 2016 and partial completion of earthworks, construction of the new train-manufacturing facility has now begun. Site mobilisation for this critical phase started early in May 2016 to begin work on the factory and ancillary buildings which comprise five manufacturing buildings (including the training centre), a central complex of two buildings and utility buildings for operational purposes.

The training centre will be the first building to be completed. Prioritisation of the training centre is to allow for staggered training of South Africans in readiness for when local train manufacturing operations begin.

Earthworks and basic infrastructure, both of which are scheduled for completion in April 2017, will be carried out concurrently with the construction of the factory buildings themselves. The first of these is scheduled to be completed in March 2017 and to be sufficiently equipped to allow preliminary work on train production to get under way during the second quarter of the year.

It is planned that construction and equipping of all the buildings on site will be completed by November 2017, when full-scale building and assembling of the first of the 580 South African-made trains, for delivery to PRASA, will begin. The gross building area of the factory covers 53,000m² of the site’s total area of 270,000m², or 27 hectares.

The construction programme will reach its peak at the end of 2016 wherein some 1,900 limited duration jobs will be created.

The gross building area of the Dunnottar factory covered 53 000 m² of the site’s total area of 270 000 m².