SA freight and transport industry still far from recovery
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CAPE TOWN - The South Africa freight and transport industry was still far from recovery from the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, Ctrack SA managing director Hein Jordt said yesterday.
Freight and transport activity increased by the most in a month ever in June compared to May, but activity declined by 1.7 percent again in July as some sectors in the transport industry continued to experience big declines due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Jordt said in a statement that generally, a small monthly decline, as recorded by the Ctrack Freight & Transport Index for July, was not a concern for the transport industry, however some sub- sectors within the industry were seeing “massive drops in activity”.
“The data clearly shows we are far from being out of the woods,” he said, despite “a definite uptick in business activities.”
Road and rail freight volumes were still increasing on a monthly basis.
Yet pipeline volumes declined -33.6 percent, primarily due to reduced traffic in South Africa’s major cities.
Another concerning trend was the decline in international trade, with both air and sea freight
volumes falling again after a brief recovery.
Storage and handling volume declines were expected.
“So, while the land transport sector is picking up - albeit slower than desired - the other
transport modes have slipped up,” said Jordt.
Ongoing global supply chain disruptions and lockdown rules were having the effect of increasing the barriers to international trade.
Current warehousing and storage volumes were similar to where they were two months ago, while rail and pipeline volumes show deeper declines.
The change in work habits of ordinary people would likely keep the pipeline industry in a prolonged period of decline, said Jordt.
The rail freight industry may also report declines in general cargo volumes as it struggles to
compete with road freight for convenience.
The bulk export of commodities such as iron ore and coal were keeping the sector afloat.
Air freight volumes were still largely in a lockdown state, with international passenger traffic likely to remain closed for a month or three longer.
“Even if opened now, passenger volumes will probably be slow to recover. Without passengers on some planes, air freight is not economically viable,” said Jordt.
Some unscheduled air freight had however returned.
“Some airlines can only fly into South Africa from March next year, so this transport sub-sector is still a long way from being fixed.”
It would take years to get back to “normal”, he said, and supply chain constraints could linger longer than initially thought.