State-owned Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) CE Tau Morwe said that Transnet needed to increase its capacity at port terminals and its rail capacity without removing freight business from the trucking industry.
Morwe told delegates at the South African Association of Freight Forwarders conference, held in Gauteng, in June, that it was critical to start investing in infrastructure to support the changes taking place within the company. He added that Transnet aimed to change its customer strategy by involving customers in the rail and port development, and, ultimately, working as a unit.
He also pointed out that the lack of investment in port capacity was causing significant congestion in terminal cities, such as Durban.
The Transnet National Ports Authority leases available land to container depot operations around the Langerberg road, in Durban, which has resulted in access to the container terminals and its surrounding roads becoming congested.
“Because of the lack of investment over the past 20 years, TPT was caught in a situation where the terminals did not have the capacity to meet container throughput, but plans were made to expand these terminals last year,” he said.
“Transnet has spent about R240-million to build a facility at Pier One, at the Port of Durban, to ensure that if there is an overflow of trucks, the company can divert these trucks from the terminals. But it is not just the expansion of the terminals that is important. In addition, Transnet’s rail capacity needs to increase so that there are [fewer] trucks and, as a result, less congestion,” Morwe explained.
In support of Morwe’s statement, Depart- ment of Transport deputy director-general for transport logistics Clement Manyungwana said that the rail and road sectors should work together to increase rail capacity, so that commodities such as iron-ore and coal are not transported by road.
Further, Morwe added that the lack of technology in both the port terminals and the trucking industry had hampered the company in meeting the needs of its cus- tomers. “At Pier One, the company has installed automated gates, [so that] trucks can go through the gates without having to stop. This speeds up the process and relieves the congestion. But now Transnet needs to slow down, to enable its customers and the trucking community to get up to standard in terms of technology. Investing will also lead to better equipment and technology.”