Africa|Automotive|Business|Container|Efficiency|Freight|Logistics|Mining|Ports|rail|Road|Roads|Rolling Stock|rolling-stock|SECURITY|supply-chain|transport|Trucks|Equipment|Operations
Africa|Automotive|Business|Container|Efficiency|Freight|Logistics|Mining|Ports|rail|Road|Roads|Rolling Stock|rolling-stock|SECURITY|supply-chain|transport|Trucks|Equipment|Operations
africa|automotive|business|container|efficiency|freight|logistics|mining|ports|rail|road|roads|rolling-stock|rolling stock|security|supply chain|transport|trucks|equipment|operations

South Africa's transport network holding economic growth back

12th June 2023

By: Rebecca Campbell

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


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South Africa’s transport modalities – all of them – are currently unable to support greater economic growth in the country. So warned South African Association of Freight Forwarders CEO Juanita Maree, addressing the forty-fifth Annual SAPICS Conference in Cape Town on Monday.

“Supply chain is more about problem solving” than anything else, she pointed out in her introductory remarks. It was “not one [transport] modality above another modality”. All were equal. But, currently, in South Africa, the roads were overused.

“There’s too many trucks on the road,” she stated. For just one example, there were 1 800 trucks driving on the N4 route from Gauteng province to Mozambique’s capital and port city of Maputo every day. But the road was not designed for such a level of heavy traffic.

This heavy dependence on road transport is the result of the severe deterioration of the country’s railway network. And South Africa’s own ports being extremely inefficient.

But the South African business sector was working with government on solving the country’s economic problems, Integrated Supply Chains Executive Consultant Ian Bird highlighted in his presentation. “We’ve made some remarkable progress in the past four months,” he reported.

Central to the collaboration between business and government was the latter’s Operation Vulindlela (which means “opening up”). Originally launched in 2020, as a joint initiative between the Presidency and National Treasury, Vulindlela is intended to modernise the country’s electricity, transport and other network sectors, including bringing the private sector into what had previously been entirely State-owned industries.

Regarding the logistics sector, Bird pointed out that business had been involved, from the beginning, in the process to develop the Vulindlela Freight Logistics Roadmap. All key business stakeholders had been involved, including the agriculture, automotive, container, intermodal, and mining sectors.

President Cyril Ramaphosa had been briefed. The result had been the creation of the National Logistics Crisis Committee (NLCC).

On their side, business had recreated the joint front previously established to help the country deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, called Business for South Africa (B4SA), to represent them on the NLCC. Bird urged companies and associations facing logistics issues to participate in B4SA, and so in the NLCC.

The NLCC was under great pressure to actually deliver, he pointed out. That pressure came from the media and public opinion, as well as from sector stakeholders.

The NLCC and B4SA were aligned on six priority areas, which were focused on key railway and port supply chains, he explained. A key element in all cases was improving security, and countering theft and vandalism across the various networks.

Regarding railways and ports, there is a focus on improving their operational efficiency. This includes increasing the availability of rolling stock, the modernization of port equipment, and enabling and promoting private sector involvement in rail transport.

Another priority area was the improvement of road transport operations and border crossing operations. There is a particular focus on the N2, N3 and N4 highways.

“There’s a lot of work to be done,” he cautioned. “This won’t happen overnight.”  

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter


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