Freight forwarders note some progress in tackling logistics crisis, but call for intensification of collaborative efforts

Dr Juanita Maree

Dr Juanita Maree

1st February 2024

By: Terence Creamer

Creamer Media Editor


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The CEO of the South African Association of Freight Forwarders (SAAFF) believes progress is being made in navigating the ‘perfect storm’ of South Africa’s current logistics crisis, which is strangling trade and investment.

However, Dr Juanita Maree argues that there is still a pressing need to intensify the initiatives being pursued under the National Logistics Crisis Committee (NLCC), which was established in 2023 to arrest the precipitous decline in Transnet’s performance and to introduce reforms to enable greater private sector participation in the rail and ports systems.

Despite the strides made under the NLCC, SAAFF notes that the contribution of imports and exports to gross domestic product fell 8.7% year-on-year to 56.22% notwithstanding robust commodity markets.

“The drop obliterated robust trade growth posted in 2022 – a recovery year after the impacts of the Covid-19 catastrophe,” she said.

“[At] the worst of times recently, the inefficiencies in rail cost us R1-billion a day, while the inefficiencies at the ports amount to a loss of R200-million a day.”

Commenting on the collaborative efforts that had been introduced since the SAAFF’s call in February last year for urgent intervention and reform, Maree described the creation of the NLCC as a “major step in the right direction”.

“The NLCC work is already making a difference.

“The recovery plan deployed by Transnet in Pier 2, the country’s biggest container terminal, will remove the backlog effectively by the end of February 2024,” she said, while also expressing support for the recent R47-billion guarantee extended to Transnet and the leadership being provided by acting CEO Michelle Phillips.

Cabinet’s approval late last year of the Freight Logistics Roadmap was also highlighted as key to supporting a revival in South Africa’s logistics sector and for positioning the country for the potential trade spinoffs from the African Continental Free Trade Area, trading under which started on January 31.

“Our call is still out for more practical measures to be introduced as sustainable action to protect jobs and attract investment.”

The SAAFF noted that public-private partnerships (PPPs) had proved successful in both developed and emerging economies and that efforts should, thus, be made this year to allay employment-related fears that were being expressed about PPPs by several labour groupings.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter




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