Asset recovered by Grindrod Limited
Sunday, 14 July 2019 marked the arrival of twenty locomotives at the Port of Durban from Freetown in Sierra Leone. The locomotives, owned by Grindrod, had been contracted in 2012 to haul Iron Ore from Tonkilili Mine to Pepel Port in Sierra Leone. At the end of 2017 mining operations came to a halt and the counterparty defaulted on their lease hire and maintenance payment obligations.
The recovery of the locomotives will allow for the realisation of their value through deployment into new contracts. A further four locomotives recovered at the same time had already been delivered from the same vessel to a client in Matadi, DRC en-route to South Africa.
The shipment of the locomotives back to South Africa was a complex task, as the Port of Pepel, is not deep enough to receive the large vessel required for the shipment and there is no railway line from Pepel to Freetown. All 24 locomotives were railed some 75 km’s to a transshipment facility established close to the town of Lunsar, where the body of each locomotive, weighing 72 tonnes, was lifted off their bogies by a mobile crane contracted from the neighbouring country of Guinea and loaded on to specialised trucks. From there they were transported indirectly, avoiding weak bridges and other obstacles for 200km on a mixture of tar and dirt roads, to Freetown Port where the locomotives were re-assembled with their bogies and subsequently loaded on a heavy lift project vessel for shipment to Matadi and Durban.
“What seemed an impossible task when first contemplated has been achieved by our team, from our landing at Lungi Airport in Freetown on the 26th of March 2019, to securing the Sierra Leonean Government’s support, contracting the logistical expertise and assets from around West Africa and safely executing a complex landside operation to delivery by sea to Durban only four months later is really remarkable”, said Andrew Thomas, CEO Grindrod Rail.