SVI Engineering is in the process of manufacturing and fitting armour protection to over 100 Mozambican locomotives after a spate of attacks against the vehicles.
According to Jaco de Kock, Director at SVI, the company bid for a tender from Mozambique last year and was awarded a contract at the beginning of this year, to protect 110 locomotives for Vale (the Brazilian mining and logistics company), CLN (Corredor Logístico Integrado do Norte) and CDN (Corredor de Desenvolvimento do Norte). The locomotives are owned by VALE and operated by CLN.
CLN is a rail and port concession-holder for the Nacala Corridor, the main route for transporting coal from the Moatize coal basin, in Tete. The company is owned by Vale and Japanese Trader Mitsui as the main shareholders, and also by the Mozambican state port and rail company Portos e Caminhos de Ferro de Moçambique (CFM). Along the Corridor, there also other concessioners, namely CDN (Corredor de Desenvolvimeno do Norte), for general cargo and passengers, in Mozambique, and VLL (Vale Logistics Limited) and CEAR (Central East Africa Railway Company Limited).
The fitment of armour plating and armoured glass to the locomotives began several months ago, and is due to be completed by the third quarter of 2017 – most of the SVI-designed armour kits have already been installed. They are fitted on site and in a single shift in order to minimise disruptions to operations.
The kits are designed in such a way that the locomotive appears as standard as possible from both the inside and outside, with things like opening windows. The glass is supplied by American Glass Products (AGP) and incorporates all the features of the standard glass including heating elements. De Kock said the focus was on armouring the driver’s compartment, but there is scope for other parts of the locomotives to be protected.
A number of trains, and other vehicles, have been attacked in Mozambique over the last few years, especially those carrying coal to the mineral port at Nacala-a-Velha. Vale had to suspend some rail operations after previous attacks. Over half a dozen attacks on trains were recorded in 2016 alone.
De Kock told defenceWeb that he believes SVI is the only company in Africa that is armouring trains to this degree, and sees it as a key market for the company, as there are many vulnerable locomotives across the continent carrying commodities between major centres. This new focus has seen SVI participate in the Africa Rail Conference in June.
SVI specialises in mechanical engineering, product development and manufacturing and protected vehicles with an emphasis on making vehicles for the niche market. The company has produced armoured civilian vehicles, armoured luxury vehicles, remanufactured military and police vehicles, cash in transit vehicles, water cannons, gun ports, guard houses and towers. It has designed and qualified over ten vehicle models. The company this year went through an ISO audit and is now certified to the latest ISO 9001:2015 standards.