Transnet Durban

The Transnet debacle in Durban is costing billions of Rands per day. Image: Transnet Port Terminals.

President Ramaphosa takes hardline on Transnet woes

Amid growing delays, millions in lost revenue and a visit to the source, President Ramaphosa is taking a hardline on Transnet woes.

Transnet Durban

The Transnet debacle in Durban is costing billions of Rands per day. Image: Transnet Port Terminals.

It’s been widely reported that President Cyril Ramaphosa is taking a hardline on Transnet woes following a personal visit to the ports. The President said Transnet had to shed incompetence and address the major backlogs at South African ports.

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This week, the President visited Richards Bay to see the logistical nightmare of trucks being blocked from delivering cargo. The Road Freight Association (RFA) slammed the hundreds of coal trucks snarling up the roads as completely crazy.

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It’s become so bad that the City of Umhlathuze (Richards Bay) is taking legal action against the state-owned enterprise over the high volume of trucks. The city says it’s been raising concerns over the high volumes of traffic, damage to infrastructure, lack of maintenance of the railway system, and environmental issues for two years, but Transnet has failed to respond.


Transnet woes
A 7km queue of trucks waiting along N2 to offload at Richards Bay Coal Terminal on 4 August 2023. Photo: SANDILE NDLOVU

A major new vehicle launch in December has had to be delayed indefinitely as the cars sit in containers waiting to dock. And there’s plenty more where that came from. The CEO of Mr Price, Mark Blair, believes the fashion industry’s autumn 2024 fashion lines will also be delayed. They usually hit South African shelves in February, but there’s no way of knowing how long the shipping delay will last.

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Unsurprisingly, the South African Association of Freight Forwarders (SAAFF) says Transnet is costing the economy R98 million a day. It’s believed that R7 billion worth of goods is not moving through due to Transnet woes. Ninety-six ships and 71 000 containers are stuck on ships outside the port of Durban, with a backlog Transnet will only be able to clear by February 2024.

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Nevertheless, President Cyril Ramaphosa expressed confidence in the government’s abilities to overcome Transnet woes. He says the issues are due to a lack of active maintenance of the state-owned entity’s infrastructure, but he was still optimistic the backlog would be cleared.


transnet woes
Transnet port in Durban Harbour. Image: Transnet

As reported by Daily Investor, Gavin Kelly, the CEO of Road Freight Association, said the state-owned entity knew this day would come, and it has been useless in maintaining South Africa’s ports and rail network. Transnet woes continue due to incompetence, corruption, mismanagement and crumbling infrastructure.

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To his credit, this is a similar hardline taken by President Ramaphosa, who said: “The incompetence and lack of action that we have seen here must be a matter that is dealt with immediate effect. Consequence management is going to be the order of the day, and we are looking at the capabilities of the people who are working at our state-owned enterprise.”

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