Traxtion launches rail hub to service locomotive fleets across Africa

Private locomotive and rail operator, Traxtion, has opened its new Rosslyn-based maintenance facility for business. The company, known in the industry for the quality of its rail freight services offering, now has the capacity to provide locomotive rebuild and overhaul services at scale.

The industrialised area of Rosslyn, a suburb of Tshwane, is the manufacturing centre of Gauteng, best known for its automotive industry. “The opening of this facility signals a giant leap as we solidify our position as Africa’s pre-eminent private rail operator,” says Traxtion CEO, James Holley, who highlights that the business has been providing rail services and solutions across the continent for 31 years.

The deciding criteria for Traxtion making such a significant R68-million investment in this particular location is threefold. “The pool of skilled artisans available in the region to facilitate rapid growth was a very important factor,” explains Holley. “This, along with the opportunity to do a cost-effective refurbishment of an existing facility, and the outstanding rail access infrastructure into Rosslyn, were drivers behind the investment.”

Locomotives for refurbishment will be transported directly into Rosslyn via rail from as far afield as the DRC, Tanzania, Namibia, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. By collaborating with complementary rail services providers, Traxtion now offers its clients a full-service destination at the Rosslyn workshop and is able to provide rolling stock refurbishment solutions for mining, industrial, freight and state-owned enterprises throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

Locomotives from West and East Africa are shipped to the port of Durban, and either railed or trucked up to Gauteng. “Regardless of where the locomotives are from, we have the expertise and capacity to refurbish and service them here in Roslyn,” says Holley.

 It is a lesser known fact that South Africa has one of the top 10 largest railways in the world and moves in excess of 220 million tons of rail freight per year. The problem seen on South Africa’s roads is that road transportation still enjoys a disproportionately large share of the freight market, creating truck congestion and dangerous driving conditions.

The new 7 370 m² premises, which employs 50 highly trained people, gives Traxtion the capacity to match its inherent capabilities as a specialist in the repair and maintenance of diesel and electric locomotives.

“This facility enables us to increase the number of locomotives that we are able to refurbish from three  ̶  at our old workshops  ̶  to 15 at any one time,” explains Holley. “The full property size at

50 883 m² gives us a lot more room for future development. We are currently installing five of the eight intended railway lines into the workshop, and that’s before we start developing the rest of the site,” adds Holley.

Current refurbishments on the premises include 12 locomotives from Traxtion’s own fleet of 59 locomotives which will take nine months to refurbish. “All the key component parts have been procured and are in our store on the premises,” says Holley. He explains that the major parts of a locomotive such as the engine, the alternator, traction motors and other key component parts are refurbished and not replaced. “It’s what we’ve done for more than 30 years and it’s what Traxtion is extremely good at. This is exactly what our new Rosslyn rail hub is going to be focussed on doing,” concludes Holley.



Towers Main transfers to Divercity and redevelopment begins

The iconic 30-storey Towers Main building in Johannesburg’s ABSA Precinct now has a new owner and a new lease on life. Divercity Urban Renewal Fund has taken transfer of Towers Main and is giving it an exciting new future and an innovative redevelopment that will extend the lifespan of this landmark on the Johannesburg skyline. The game-changing development will be valued at over R400 million once completed.

The WBHO / Motheo JV has been appointed as the contractor for the project and is already on site. The first steps in constructing the next chapter of this tower have already begun. A hoist has been erected up the entire elevation of the 140-metre tall building, one of the city’s 10 tallest buildings, and will be used to take materials to the upper floors. Hoarding has also been carefully positioned around the base of the property.

The Towers Main redevelopment initiative is a substantial investment in inner Johannesburg by Divercity, a new investment fund. Its purpose is to renew and re-energise South Africa’s urban centres by developing unique inner-city precincts. Its key shareholders and stakeholders are Atterbury Property, Ithemba Property and Talis Property Fund, and its cornerstone investors are RMH Property and Nedbank Property Partners.

Divercity integrates commercial buildings and affordable residential accommodation to create multifunctional, inclusive and diverse neighbourhoods.

Towers Main is being redeveloped into a one-of-a-kind mixed-use address, including 520 affordably priced residential rental apartments. ABSA, a key partner in this project, will also be leasing back nine floors with 10 000 m2 of office space in the redeveloped building.

From the outside, the building will be visually transformed, with its existing façade being completely removed and replaced with a brand new one.

Changes inside the building will be equally dramatic as it is repurposed. “The building is very well suited to a residential conversion, with lots of natural lighting. We’re using a special lightweight brick to limit the load on the existing structure. It is designed to be long-lasting, with quality, durable materials used to constructcost-effective, resilient units,” confirms Derrick Pautz, Atterbury development manager.

The residents and employees of the building will enjoy an entire floor of coffee shops, restaurants and recreation. On ground floor, they will be able to access all the amenity of convenience retail, child care facilities, a public park, integrated public transport facilities and a wealth of public art.

The 20 floors of dedicated residential accommodation and recreation will be launched in phases, with the first residents expected to move into Towers Main as early as the end of this year. Most units, however, will become available in the first quarter of 2020. ABSA is also expected to reoccupy the towers early in 2020.

The project is also designed to rejuvenate the entire surrounding area as part of a wider neighbourhood development initiative. Towers Main connects with Divercity’s other major project, the mixed-use Jewel City, which is also making excellent development progress. Jewel City, in turn, connects to the vibey Maboneng. A pedestrian-friendly walkway will run all the way through all three precincts, an area the length of around 10 city blocks, complete with street furniture, lighting and art.


Development update on Riversands Commercial Park

“It’s gratifying to watch the transformation of empty veld into Riversands Commercial Park. This development means greater economic activity on the doorstep of the small businesses at Riversands Incubation Hub as well as more new jobs for local residents,” said Jenny Retief, CEO of Riversands Incubation Hub.

The plan for Riversands Incubation Hub was to be a space for SMEs within a broader commercial development to connect the hub to markets and a whole range of business opportunities. Being at the heart of the Riversands Commercial Park allows entrepreneurs to mainstream their businesses, serving customers from all market segments as well as providing employment and business opportunities to Diepsloot residents.

The concept behind Riversands Commercial Park

Strategically located a short distance north of Fourways, Riversands Commercial Park is the brainchild of Century Property Developments, and is already redefining commercial parks in Southern Africa.

According to Mark Corbett, CEO of Century Property Developments, the park will be developed as a secure complex with a variety of precincts allowing for light industrial spaces, warehousing, storage, showrooms, retail centres, commercial office space, schools, outdoor recreational spaces, as well as residential lifestyle apartments, all spanning over 240 hectares.

Breaking ground

There are two initial major projects underway: The Parks and Riversands Outlet Park.

The Parks is a large residential estate with 1 880 units at an affordable price point. The Parks will offer all the lifestyle benefits that are synonymous with a Century development – top security, wifi, fitness boot camps, art classes and ample recreation benefits.

Riversands Outlet Park, with more than 50 000 m² of lettable space, will offer office, showroom, warehouse and light industrial spaces. These premises tick all the boxes in terms of accessibility, visibility, technology and security. First occupation will take place in September 2019.

Economic benefit for the area

Century is currently negotiating with two potential tenants which will generate approximately 1 000 jobs for the area.

In support of entrepreneurial development, Century will offer Riversands Incubation Hub graduates a 50% saving on rent in this new park, with the discount being valid for three years. This special offer offers high-grade premises at a fraction of what would be available on the open market.

A key factor for the success of the broader park is accessibility. Once fully developed, the entire commercial park will have both cycle paths and walking paths to provide access to ensure pedestrian and bicycle access to Diepsloot residents. Walking paths have also been included in the William Nicol upgrade – this will greatly reduce transport costs for Diepsloot residents.

The road ahead

These are exciting times for Riversands Incubation Hub. Firstly, the leadership team is focused on supporting SMEs to benefit from the business opportunities from the build out and other potential ongoing contracts once the development is completed. “While we cannot guarantee contracts, we walk the road with SMEs helping them ladder up to larger scale deals.

“Secondly, we are considering how to best integrate the Hub’s activities and services with our new business and residential neighbours. We are located in a prime position within a premium commercial park – we intend to make the most of it,” concluded Retief.

Riversands Incubation Hub is a large-scale business incubator established in 2015 through a partnership between Century Property Developments and National Treasury’s The Jobs Fund. The hub is currently home to over 160 small businesses, with many more entrepreneurs supported through business development programmes and support services.

SKF expands in South Africa with R120 million transaction

Leading global technology provider SKF, headquartered in Sweden, has concluded a lease agreement in Jet Park with a value of more than R120 million.

This new lease agreement signifies the company’s intention to further expand and consolidate their sub-Saharan business operations says John Jack, CEO of Galetti Corporate Real Estate, who concluded the transaction. ‘’We are seeing an increase in global companies, such as SKF, committing to long-term leases in South Africa as the country continues to be positioned as a top destination for foreign direct investment.’’

‘’SKF is, amongst other industries, focused on the mining sector which continues to be seen as South Africa’s ‘sunrise industry’. The recent Mining Indaba showed great promise for the industry with speakers addressing opportunities for international investors and so we can expect more companies to explore foreign investment in this space over the months to come. We are currently speaking to a number of global companies looking to expand operations in South Africa,’’ adds Jack.

The transaction, built around warehousing and office space totalling over 10 000 m2, involved the consolidation of two existing operations in an effort to improve efficiently and position the company for further expansion.

‘’The investment, which was planned over a 12-month period, will allow the company an opportunity to rapidly expand operations through their core technologies: bearings and units, seals, lubrication systems, power transmission, and mechanical and reliability engineering services,’’ adds Jack.

SKF has been a leading global technology provider since 1907 and offers local industry a full range of solutions and services around its core technologies. The company, founded in Sweden, manufactures and supplies bearings, seals, lubrication and lubrication systems, maintenance products, power transmission products, condition monitoring systems and related services globally.

Skyriders Access Specialists find window of opportunity at PFG Group

Once a client, always a client is a mantra that Skyriders Access Specialists (Pty) Limited is well familiar with. It recently followed up a 2010 to 2011 contract with PFG Building Glass Solutions with its second-biggest project for the float-glass manufacturer to date.

The scope of work on this project consisted of the inspection of five silos and three smokestacks over an eight-day window period in January. In order to ensure that the work progressed smoothly, Skyriders deployed five of its own highly qualified and experienced rope-access technicians, in addition to two engineers from partner company Nyeleti Consulting Pty Limited.

PFG, a division of the PG Group, is the leading manufacturer of float glass in Southern Africa, as well as laminated glass, mirrors, and sealant products. ClearVue is its main float glass brand, while Intruderprufe is its main laminated glass range.

The company produces 260 000 tons of high-quality float glass a year. These products are supplied to customers in various industries in South Africa, and around the world, from PFG’s head office and depot in Springs, Johannesburg.

Skyriders marketing manager, Mike Zinn, explains that the project was part of the float-glass manufacturer’s routine inspection programme. “All the issues that we identified during the course of the inspection, the speed of which was facilitated by rope access, were minor ones, especially given the age of the structures.”

Zinn concludes that the rope-access specialist’s successful completion of this fast-track project has opened a window onto continued work for PFG. “The detailed report from this inspection project identified a lot of work-at-height issues in terms of proactive maintenance, which we are confident we will become involved with at a later stage.”


144 Oxford Road is a flagship project

The 35 000 m2 premium-grade 144 Oxford Road office development in Rosebank, Johannesburg for Growthpoint Properties is the Paragon Group’s largest project at present.

Developed by Growthpoint Properties to capitalise on the demand for P-grade office space in the central Rosebank precinct, which currently exceeds even that of nearby Sandton and Melrose, the premium project has been developed and refined over an eight-year period, with the Tiber WBHO Joint Venture having been on-site as main contractor since November 2017. The project is aiming for a 5-Star Green Star Design Certification from the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA).

Located on the arterial Oxford Road the nine-storey development features two elongated office towers interlinked by a central atrium along the north-south axis. Spanning over the entire nine floors, the atrium offers a visual link to the outside while allowing light deeper into the floor plate and encouraging user activity.

The west facades are shaped towards a curved glass pinnacle which cantilevers outwards towards the road. The main façade consists of double-glazed unitised façades, incorporating a dark grey glass. The outermost facade of the northern building features a secondary offset glazed skin with raking sides, a nod to the fast-paced vehicular movement on Oxford Road.

The building mass is eroded along ground level on both the eastern and western edges, which, together with landscaped pockets and water features, offer users sheltered spill-out spaces under and around the building. Sitting proud of the surrounding canopy line, the building offers spectacular views across the city from the ground floor podium upwards.

The landscaping on Ground Floor slopes gently towards both Oxford Road and Tottenham Avenue, softening the interface between passers-by and the building. The iconic development acts as a gateway to the Rosebank precinct while taking cognisance of the leafy residential suburbs that surrounds it.

“We introduced upper floor terraces at the back of the building as well as the landscaped berm in acknowledgement of the low-rise residential fabric bordering the eastern edge of the site,” Paragon architect, Laura Strydom, reveals.

The site’s desirable location on Oxford Road, a short walk from the Rosebank Gautrain Station, posed particular construction challenges.

“The Gautrain servitude cuts through the site, which restricted the allowable construction methodology to be used. Further to this, Oxford Road sits within the site boundary. All these factors contributed to a long and intensive design process which took into account site-specific parameters, together with stakeholders’ particular needs and requirements,” Strydom highlights. “In addition, we future-proofed the building by allowing for multi-tenancy.”

Building information modelling (BIM) software such as Revit and Navisworks have been deployed from the outset, with virtual coordination and clash detection done on an ongoing basis. An eight-person Paragon Group team has been dedicated to the project, with each person assigned to specific packages, including brickwork, facades, service coordination, finishes and joinery.

Strydom concludes that the project has been an exciting challenge to date, morphing through various iterations.

Professional team

Client: Growthpoint Properties

Development Manager: Growthpoint Management Services

Architect: Paragon Group

Civil & Structural Engineer: Sutherland Engineers

Quantity Surveyor: RLB Pentad, Farrow Laing Quantity Surveyors

Electrical Engineer: Conscius Electrical Engineers, Claassen & Auret Consulting Engineers

Mechanical Engineer: Aurecon Group

Wet Services Engineer: MG Building Services

Fire Engineer: Specialised Fire Technology

Lift Consultant: Solutions for Elevating

Main Contractor: Tiber WBHO Joint Venture

Project Manager and Principal Agent: Origina Project Management

Green Building Consultant: Aurecon

Landscape Architect: Ochre Office