Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan says Transnet has lost thousands of kilometres of railway tracks due to theft and vandalism since 1994.
Transnet has in the past few months been promising to recover the rail network following delays in the ports of Durban and Richards Bay.
President Cyril Ramaphosa even visited the two ports late last year where he urged Transnet management to ensure the ports were able to clear the backlog.
Ramaphosa said he wanted the ports to improve their performance by the beginning of this year.
Unions also complained that the poor performance of Transnet has had an impact on jobs in the mining sector due to the fact that goods were no longer transported by rail, but by trucks on the road.
Thousands of workers in the mining sector faced job cuts.
Gordhan said since 1994 Transnet has lost thousands of kilometres of railway tracks due to a number of reasons.
“A total of 3,636 kilometres of railway tracks have fallen into disuse since April 1994 to the end of November 2023,” said Gordhan, who was replying to a written parliamentary question from DA MP Farhat Essack.
“Transnet Freight Rail has lost 4, 633 kilometres of copper cable through theft from 2019/20 financial year to date as of the end of October 2023.”
Ramaphosa early last year established the National Logistics Crisis Committee to deal with the crisis in the rail and port sectors.
Cabinet approved the Freight Logistics Roadmap late last year to jack up the performance of Transnet.
Economics cluster ministers have said Transnet and Eskom were key state-owned entities and they should not be allowed to fail because it would have serious implications for the economy.