Durban - Transnet national port authority will be bringing in foreign operators to help improve efficiencies at its terminals and was dealing with corruption in the organisation.
That was the message to freight industry representatives at the Transport Forum, hosted by Transnet Port Terminals, in Durban on Thursday.
Nozipho Sithole, chief executive Transnet Port Terminals, said the authority was looking at ways to drive down cost as “tariff growth is not going to work”.
“What is going to work is fast turnaround (times). We are beginning to see improvements in efficiency (but) there is a lot of work that we need to do to reduce the cost of doing business in South Africa and integrate with other ports in Africa,” said Sithole.
“We are bringing in globally recognised terminal operators to inform us how best we can do this,” she said.
She said they were in plans with a private operator to run a liquid bulk edible oil import terminal in Richards Bay.
Transnet was also open to a global partnership at its Ngqura container port to use spare capacity.
On Transnet’s Durban container terminals which came in for criticism at the forum for its slow turnaround times and inefficiencies, Sithole said: “I will not shy away from saying our operations are poor.”
She said that consistency was poor and this was partly a result of planning and skills levels but Transnet was working to fix this.
“We are having weekly sessions with South African Association of Ship Operators and Agents around planning and ticketing systems,” she said
She was responding to criticism from the floor about delays at the Durban terminal.
David Watts, of the SA Association of Freight Forwarders, said 80% of cargo left Durban on trucks, often after costly delays at the port, and said it was “disappointing to see” that road hauliers got scant mention in Sithole’s presentation.
Herbert Msagala, the parastatals chief for growth and diversification, told delegates they are grappling with corruption.
“I cannot avoid the elephant in the room in Transnet. The country is going through a new dawn, a process of self-cleansing. We are challenged in terms of high-value transactions we have made.
“We will appear before the Zondo commission (into state capture) in May. We can only clear our brand if we change our reality.
“We are reviewing all our high-value tenders,” he said.
He called on the transport industry to alert Transnet to corruption in the organisation and to join it in a drive to improve efficiency.
“The efficiency war is an industry war. If we are not going to allow the private sector to partner with us we are not going to win the war.”
But he acknowledged there was pressure on Transnet to lead the charge.
“We cannot lower the costs of doing business in the country - part of the national transport system objectives - unless we ourselves are efficient,” he said.
Hamilton Nxumalo, Transnet Ports Authority general manager, detailed planned investments to improve operations, including:
- Two new harbour pilot helicopters to be commissioned in June for Durban and Richards Bay and one for Cape Town in 2021;
- Three new dredgers, including a R100 million plough tug expected to be completed in Port Elizabeth in July.
- Berth expansion and deepening at the Durban container terminal would resume after governance issues had been resolved;
- The Durban dig-out port was still on the table, with its timing depending on economic growth in the country; and
- The feasibility study for the Boegoebaai harbour development north of Port Nolloth would be concluded by the end of April.