President Cyril Ramaphosa has expressed confidence in their work to fix the rail and port crisis, saying they have already witnessed signs of improvements in the Durban and Cape Town ports.
He said while this may take time, Transnet was on the road to recovery.
Once they have fixed Transnet, they will start to see an increase in the export of products to the African market after the launch of the first shipment of goods from South Africa to the continent under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Ramaphosa was writing in his weekly newsletter on Monday.
The launch of the first shipment took place in Durban last week.
However, he said their priority was to fix Transnet. There have been backlogs in the ports due to inefficiencies.
“Transnet, which operates our ports and freight rail lines, has had to contend with severe challenges, including the effects of state capture, the impact of the Covid pandemic, natural disasters and rising levels of theft and vandalism of its infrastructure. As a result, the volume of goods transported on our rail network has decreased significantly, forcing more companies to use trucks and causing congestion on our roads,” said Ramaphosa.
He said they were now implementing the Freight Logistics Roadmap, which was adopted by Cabinet last year.
The National Logistics Crisis Committee was working on measures to turn around the sector.
“We have also established Corridor Recovery Teams which bring Transnet, the private sector and independent experts together to improve the performance of strategic rail and port corridors.
“This single-minded approach to improving performance is already showing results. For example, the number of ships waiting to berth at the Port of Durban – which has experienced severe congestion in recent months – reduced from more than 60 ships in mid-November to just 12 ships at the end of January,” said Ramaphosa.
“At the Port of Cape Town, which is preparing for the important fruit season, Transnet has deployed new leadership and is putting in place several measures to improve its capacity in the short term. Seven new cranes, which are used for moving and stacking containers, were delivered to the port last month, and the number of work shifts is being increased to improve vessel turnaround times.”
The work to fix problems at Transnet may take time, but it was on the road to recovery.
Local businesses must take the opportunity to export their products to the African continent. This will also help grow the economy, he wrote.
Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) also said a few days ago there has been an improvement in rail volumes in the last quarter to the Richards Bay coal terminal. The rail volumes increased from 47.10 million tons in the third quarter to 48.74m tons in the fourth quarter.
“Transnet Freight Rail’s North Corridor handles an estimated 41% of total TFR volumes and supports key commodity sectors including export coal and chrome,” said Transnet Freight Rail.