A WBHO project in Rosebank, near Johannesburg. File picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi, Independent Media

Chinese vehicle manufacturer First Automobile Works (FAW) has appointed WBHO Construction as its preferred contractor for the design and construction of its vehicle and truck assembly plant in Zone 2 of the Coega Industrial Development Zone (IDZ).

Construction will commence in November and is expected to be completed by December 2013.

The R200-million construction investment will see over 1‚000 jobs created during the construction phase‚ the Coega Development Corporation (CDC) confirmed on Friday. Overall FAW will invest R600-million in the Coega IDZ‚ through joint funding provided by FAW and China-Africa Fund.

Zhao Dan‚ FAW Project Manager for FAW Africa Investment said earlier this week the vehicle manufacturer looked forward to cooperating with the CDC and WBHO Construction in delivering the FAW plant – and commencing production.

“After a long period of tough discussions‚ which started shortly after the land lease agreement was signed with Coega on February 28‚ 2012‚ FAW finally concluded its negotiations with various construction companies and decided to appoint a contractor to design and construct the FAW Coega Assembly Plant‚” said Zhao Dan. “It was decided to award WBHO the construction bid. The successful bidder has been requested to finalise the construction contract for this award. FAW plans to sign the agreement with WBHO in October 2012 and construction will commence in November 2012. We are eager to turn the investment into reality.”

The company’s investment at the Coega IDZ centred on the zone’s strategic location‚ proximity to the Port of Ngqura‚ logistical solutions offering‚ and the availability of skills in Nelson Mandela Bay and support mechanisms offered by the CDC.

CDC head of marketing and communications Ayanda Vilakazi said the appointment of WBHO was exciting as it was a step forward in realising the project on a tangible level.

“Coega welcomes the appointment of WBHO Construction as this reconfirms that FAW is here to stay. This is big news for the Eastern Cape‚ but particularly Nelson Mandela Bay because of the huge economic spinoffs for the city‚” Vilakazi said. “Moreover it emphasizes the fact that a number of BRIC countries‚ China and India in particular‚ are watching South Africa with interest and are not afraid to match intention with investment.”

He added that the automotive supply chain would benefit from the FAW investment. - I-Net Bridge