President Cyril Ramaphosa has directed Transnet to implement reforms swiftly and completely to turn around the crisis in South Africa’s logistics system.
President Ramaphosa met with the members of the Transnet board and the executive management team at the Union Buildings in Pretoria today, 28 March 2023, to discuss the challenges facing the country’s logistics system, including the declining performance of the freight rail network.
Government has set out a clear policy direction for the freight transport sector in the White Paper on National Rail Policy and in legislation such as the National Ports Act and the Economic Regulation of Transport Bill that is currently before Parliament.
During the State of the Nation Address last month, President Ramaphosa announced that government would develop a roadmap for Transnet to provide clarity on the steps that need to be taken to address the crisis and outline a path for reform.
There is work underway between the various departments to finalise this roadmap, coordinated by Operation Vulindlela
This includes ensuring that sufficient rolling stock is available to increase the volume of goods transported by rail; upgrading infrastructure in rail and ports; addressing security challenges; and implementing reforms to enable private sector investment.
“There is work underway between the various departments to finalise this roadmap, coordinated by Operation Vulindlela, and I would like this process to be completed as quickly as possible. We must remain focused on structural reforms to improve the efficiency and competitiveness of the transport sector in the long term.
One of these reforms is to enable third party access to the freight rail network by private rail operators, while the network itself remains in the ownership of the state”, said President Ramaphosa.
The President noted the progress that has been made to establish a separate Infrastructure Manager within Transnet Freight Rail by October this year as a crucial step towards creating a level playing field for public and private operators.
President Ramaphosa said that strong collaboration with the private sector, organised labour and other social partners is vital to improving logistics performance. He made reference to the strong willingness shown by members of the Minerals Council and others to invest in rolling stock and other equipment, to contribute skills and resources and to pursue opportunities for collaboration.
These collaborative efforts are essential to formulating workable solutions that will form part of a collective national effort to fix the country’s transport system.
“Despite the crisis facing Transnet we must acknowledge the important progress that has been made in reversing the damage that was inflicted during state capture and recognise that there are many dedicated and hard-working people in the company that are committed to restoring Transnet to its potential. Transnet must quickly embark on a clear path to take us out of this crisis and ensure that the operation of our railways and ports contributes to the growth of our economy,” said President Ramaphosa.