Land transport of agri goods down by 6%, ports backlog blamed

An aerial shot of the container terminal at the Cape Town Port. Picture: Ian Landsberg/Independent Newspapers

An aerial shot of the container terminal at the Cape Town Port. Picture: Ian Landsberg/Independent Newspapers

Published Jan 24, 2024


Cape Town - With a decline in land transportation income for the agriculture sector towards the end of last year, farmers in the province were still monitoring the impact from the nearly R4 million dip in income.

Stats SA this week released the findings of its land transport survey, which showed that the freight transportation income for agriculture and forestry primary products dropped by 6% to R3.8m in September-November 2023.

The manufactured food, beverages and tobacco products, along with chemicals, petroleum, rubber, plastic and other mineral products also declined to R6.7m and R2.7m respectively.

This, while generally the volume of goods transported increased by 1.6% in November 2023 compared with the previous year, and income from freight transportation increased by 4.6% in the three months.

The survey results coincided with the period of intense backlog at Transnet ports.

Agriculture MEC Ivan Meyer’s spokesperson Daniel Johnson said the backlog at the ports caused a logistical nightmare.

“Farmers, producers and exporters remain at risk of losing billions of rand as a result of the inefficiency at our ports.

“One of the pillars of the Western Cape economic strategy is the export of our primary agricultural products.

“The problems at the ports have become a major obstacle.

“The Western Cape is currently responsible for 55% of South Africa’s exports of primary agricultural products.

“Valuable foreign exchange is earned through exports.

“This is now in great danger due to inefficiencies exporters are subjected to at the problems at the ports in South Africa.”

President of the Black Association of the Wine and Spirit Industry (Bawsi), Nosey Pieterse, said last year presented a bumper crop season, and therefore the findings of the study were a surprise, and the impact of the decline still had to be felt.

“Last year we had an early winter and early spring. This resulted in lots of mielies and canola, etc.

“Sometimes companies use their own private drivers to deliver the goods,” said Pieterse.

Meanwhile, the repair of the country’s main coal export line was proceeding following a collision and derailment of two trains, a Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) spokesperson said.

Transnet has been working to clear the line to Richards Bay, South Africa’s major coal export port, from Mpumalanga, since the accident happened on Sunday.