Motor Turbine Units, one of the largest rail-engine manufacturers in Africa, unveils its new multi-million rand facility in Montague Gardens. The MTU R63L V20 turbodiesel in the picture has a capacity of 95.3 litres, weighs 9.7 tons, and delivers 3300kW at 1800rpm and 18 007Nm at 1750rpm. Picture: David Ritchie / INLSA

Cape Town - A local engine manufacturer is expanding and taking on more staff thanks to a R50 million investment from Rolls-Royce.

Motor Turbine Units officially opened its redesigned and upgraded facility in Montague Gardens on Thursday; it produces locomotive engines with the power of as many as eight Ferraris, which are sent to Durban to be installed in Transnet freight trains.

The business, which assembles, tests, paints and commissions the 9.7-ton engines, has not shied away from hiring women in a male-dominated industry.

“I think I’m a good example that, as a woman, you can excel in a male-dominated industry,” MTU chief executive Andrea Nono said. “If I’m not mistaken, we’re Transnet’s only engine supplier, and we’re very proud of that because it has given not only us the opportunity to employ more people, but also our contractors and suppliers.”

Bernd Kruper, vice president of industrial business at MTU, said the deal with Rolls-Royce was good news for the country’s struggling economy.

Engine technician Pam Maphanga, who had been with the company for four years, said she was glad she had followed her dreams and hadn’t studied nursing.

“Everyone at home, from my mom to my aunties, they are all nurses,” she said. “But because I can’t really work with blood, I looked at other options - and studied electrical engineering.”

‘Boys’ club’

Maphanga said working in a “boys’ club” had not always been easy.

‘When I started at MTU, I was the only woman in the workshop. Everything was so scary, but I got a lot of support from the guys - the technicians, management, from everyone,” she said.

“I never gave up, I fought for my place in this company and I’ve come a long way from being an apprentice to where I am today.”

Maphanga said she was proud of the company because it had “created a lot of job opportunities, not only inside the company itself, but other smaller companies have also benefited and have also been able to increased staff”.

Nono said the Transnet commission was a positive thing for the country.

“For us as MTU South Africa, this deal is really significant because this is one of the success stories to talk about and say yes, local manufacturing is possible.”

Cape Argus

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