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Transnet’s second healthcare train launched

Transnet, to extend the reach of its healthcare offering, has launched its second health train — Phelophepa II

The new train, which will operate simultaneously with the award-winning Transnet Phelophepa I that started in 1994, will provide on-board primary healthcare, dental, optometry and psychological care among others.

Phelophepa is a flagship project of the Transnet Foundation – Transnet’s specialist unit for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Phelophepa I made history when it became the first sustainable South African CSR initiative to receive the prestigious United Nations Public Service Award for its excellence in public service delivery and has received numerous accolades in South Africa and around the world.

South Africa public enterprises minister, Malusi Gigaba, who officially unveiled Phelophepa II, said, “What started off 18 years ago as a modest three-coach eye clinic has become an internationally well-known beacon of hope, providing healthcare throughout South Africa, especially in rural areas. The launch of Transnet Phelophepa II will allow us to reach communities that need it most and demonstrates how public-private sector partnerships can be used to transform lives of communities through social entrepreneurship.

“We have repeatedly committed to ensuring that state-owned enterprises entrusted to us in the Department of Public Enterprises will lead the rest of corporate South Africa as agents of change. In this regard, I challenge the private sector to match or even better this commitment,” Gigaba added.

The introduction of Transnet Phelophepa II will more than double the number of people who benefit from the facility, taking the total to an estimated 370,000 individuals annually. Transnet Phelophepa’s extensive community outreach programmes also include health, oral and vision screening programmes, basic health education courses and community counselling workshops.

Transnet Group chief executive Brian Molefe said, “Transnet Phelophepa II is in line with our strategic objectives which are aligned with government’s New Growth Path.

“We are honoured that the people of South Africa are allowing us, through our CSR projects, to make a difference in their lives in partnership with training institutions, the private sector and various organs of state. And with this train, we are confident that we will make an even bigger contribution to society by providing more health care to communities that need these services the most.”

Each train has 20 permanent staff, 16 contracted security officials and 40 students staffing it. As with its predecessor, Transnet Phelophepa II will run from January to September of every year. When the trains are not running, they will be housed at Transnet Rail Engineering’s (TRE) Salt River workshop where they undergo regular maintenance and upgrading.

Transnet Phelophepa is also a training institution for South African and international final-year professional health students. The trains not only provide practical experience for nursing, dental, optometry, psychology and pharmaceutical students, but also attract catering students needing an opportunity to practise their skills.

The R82-million Phelophepa II project was engineered and built at TRE’s facility in Salt River, Cape Town. TRE, which is also responsible for the maintenance of the trains, is Transnet’s engineering manufacturing and rolling stock maintenance division.

The train boasts advanced technology such as the use of fibre optics as a network medium  a first for any train in South Africa.

The cost of the second train is in addition to the R150-million Transnet spends on social investments annually.

Swiss-based pharmaceutical company, F Hoffmann La Roche, a major external sponsor of both trains, sponsors the trains’ primary healthcare clinics and pharmacies, while Colgate-Palmolive partly sponsors the dental clinic. The two partners have been with Phelophepa since it started operating 18 years ago.