Mar 18 - South Africa's state-owned logistics company has awarded four global firms a contract to supply over 1,000 trains. But as Sonia Legg reports the country hopes it will one day be making its own.
The average train in South Africa is 32 years old - yet the country's economy depends on them to export commodities . Two years ago the government announced a 28 billion dollar deal to improve railways, ports and pipelines. A new near 5 billion contract for 1064 new trains is part of that. Brian Molefe is CEO of state-owned Transnet (SOUNDBITE) (English) TRANSNET CHIEF EXECUTIVE BRIAN MOLEFE SAYING: "This will allow us to reduce the cost of doing business, it will allow us to employ locomotives that use modern technology that are more environmentally friendly that save on both diesel and electricity that allow us as a country to be more efficient in the transport logistics." Bombardier and General Electric will share the work with China's top two train makers, CSR and China CNR. Ultimately though South Africa hopes to become more self-sufficient. (SOUNDBITE) (English) TRANSNET CHIEF EXECUTIVE BRIAN MOLEFE SAYING: "We hope that this will allow us to set a base where, from South Africa we can manufacture locomotives and equipment for the railway industry for the rest of the continent going forward." Most of the trains will be used for transporting cargo - particularly South Africa's valuable commodities. The first locomotives should arrive within 15 months with the final batch coming three years later.