Johannesburg: Transnet and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) have on Monday signed an agreement which will see the two working to identify possible areas of cooperation in all areas of Transnet’s operations.
These areas include port, rail and pipeline operations. To date, 13 specific projects have been identified, including looking at energy usage and reducing deaths at railway level crossings, among others.
Speaking at the formal signing ceremony in Johannesburg, Transnet Group Chief Executive Officer Brian Molefe said Transnet was renting a building at the CSIR premises that currently employs 255 people.
Bright sparks from universities have also been roped in with the intention of increasing the staff compliment at the centre to a total 400.
“The intention of the unit is to find better ways to improve equipment, improve operations at sea and pipeline operations, among others,” he said.
“We hope that with this cooperation with the CSIR, we will be able to increase the number of intellectual property rights that we register as Transnet but also the intellectual property rights that we register as a country,” said Molefe.
The contract signed is for a three year period, however, Transnet “hopes for a permanent arrangement” in the future.
Over the next seven years Transnet will be encouraging innovation among the artisans.
Safety at railway level crossings has been identified as an area for cooperation between Transnet and the CSIR.
“We are looking at different technologies for that. We are looking at technologies that will make it difficult [for drivers] to try and beat the trains [at level crossings],” said Molefe, adding that this will result in fewer deaths at level crossings.
Transnet will spend R150 million a year on the partnership. Ownership of the work will be negotiated on a project basis depending on the work done.
CSIR Chief Executive Officer Dr Sibusiso Sibisi said the CSIR was excited about the project. “The on-going interaction really is a milestone for South Africa,” he said, adding that the agreement was likely to last well over the three year period.
Work between the two has already begun. Transnet has previously used the services of the CSIR on various specialised projects that include monitoring of the quality of water in all ports as well as waste water monitoring for the Durban to Johannesburg fuel pipeline.
Transnet is about to enter into the second year of its rolling seven-year Market Demand Strategy that entails improvement of its operations including its capital investment programme and safety levels.
The CSIR is one of the leading research and development, technology and innovation institutions on the African continent.