| Transnet pleads for parts as China shuns it

The multibillion-rand locomotive tender was found to have been inflated from R38 billion to R54.5 billion.

The multibillion-rand locomotive tender was found to have been inflated from R38 billion to R54.5 billion.

Darren Stewart


State-owned rail operator Transnet has gone public as it seeks any service provider who could assist in supplying spare parts for some of the trains the company bought during the controversial 1 064 locomotives deal.

There are at least 161 locomotives that remain stuck and cannot be returned to the rail lines as Chinese state-owned rail supplier CRRC E-Loco Supply refuses to provide Transnet with spare parts after it was implicated in alleged wrongdoing during the investigation into the acquisition.  

READ: Transnet Brian helped to loot

The multibillion-rand locomotive tender was found to have been inflated from R38 billion to R54.5 billion. 

Transnet spokesperson Mary Papayya said that, in an effort to normalise freight operations in South Africa, Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) had issued an open competitive tender, inviting eligible original equipment manufacturers to step in to rehabilitate the nonoperational Chinese-manufactured locomotives awaiting critical spare parts.  

Papayya said:

This follows on the impasse with CRRC E-Loco Supply … which is unwilling to engage with the relevant authorities in South Africa to normalise its operations in the country.


TFR has now published the request for procurement to find alternative original equipment manufacturers to support the return to service of the estimated 161 long-standing locomotives (locomotives that have been out of service for a period exceeding 90 days) owing to a lack of components for the 20E, 21E and 22E fleets.  

These electric locomotives support four primary mining sector segments  export coal, magnetite, chrome and manganese  on the Transnet rail network. 

READ: Portia Derby is the right person to lead Transnet; afford her the necessary time

Transnet and CRRC were in talks, which have now failed to bring a mutual settlement over the transaction and the findings that were made by the forensic investigators as well as Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.

Papayya said Transnet Freight had been severely constrained by the severe shortage of operational locomotives as a result of unfortunate protracted negotiations to reach a lawful settlement with original equipment manufacturers in relation to the 1 064 locomotive contract.

The availability of locomotives on the export coal lines dropped by a staggering 33% between the 2017/18 and 2020/21 financial years.

“Returning these long-standing locomotives to service will enable the company to meet customer demands, enhance competitiveness and deliver on its mandate from the shareholder and the country,” she said.

The proposed duration of the contract is a maximum period of 10 years on account of all the activities required, some of which may take up to two years to redesign and conclude. This contract will provide not only the required support that will ultimately see the return to service of the 160 long-standing locomotives but also the ongoing support for the entire 20E, 21E and 22E fleets. 

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