Subdued growth expected in transport sector; more freight going to Maputo – Ctrack index

14th February 2024

By: Irma Venter

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


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The Ctrack Transport and Freight Index (Ctrack TFI) forecasts “another year of fairly subdued growth for the transport sector”.

This is based on the assumption of mediocre economic growth in South Africa this year, forecast at 1.3%, up from 2023’s estimated 0.6%.

The latest Ctrack TFI says real transport sector growth is expected to reach 3.7% for 2024, compared with an estimated 3.4% in 2023. 

Growth in total payload (road and rail freight) is forecast at 5.5% for 2024, versus an estimate of 1.5% in 2023. 

On the assumption that rail will continue to improve gradually to account for 15.8% of total freight payload (compared with 15.5% in 2022 and 2023), growth of 7.4% is forecast for rail freight in 2024, compared with an estimated 1.5% last year. 

“Though off an extremely low base, and clearly continuing to underperform relative to other transport modalities given ongoing challenges plaguing the sector, the improvement should be celebrated,” notes the TFI report.

“While government approved the Freight Logistics Roadmap at the end of 2023, with proposals to resolve the immediate operational challenges while developing interventions to fundamentally restructure the logistics sector…implementation still needs to be fast-tracked before a notable difference would be evident. More of a medium-term expectation for improvement would be realistic here.”

This said, road freight payload is forecast to grow by 5.1% this year versus 1.5% in 2023, which makes it likely to account for 84.2% of total freight payload in the country in 2024. 

The road freight sector, the biggest among the sectors tracked in the TFI, experienced multiple headwinds in the last few months of 2023, owing partly to operational troubles at South Africa’s ports.

According to the TFI, for the whole of 2023, heavy-vehicle traffic on the N3 route between Durban and Gauteng increased by only 0.6%, compared with heavy-vehicle traffic on the N4 route between Gauteng and Mozambique, which increased by around 25% compared with 2022. 

“There is clear evidence that the ongoing operational troubles at South African ports and other challenges have resulted in loads being redirected towards the Port of Maputo, clearly to the detriment of the South African economy,” states the TFI report.

“This trend is likely to continue in 2024, as South Africa’s logistical problems will unfortunately not change overnight.”

“The transport and logistics sector is of utmost importance to the South African economy,” comments Ctrack CEO Hein Jordt.

“The inability to effectively move products to and from markets comes at a cost, which has a negative impact on the whole economy. 

“Not only does it subtract from economic growth, given that products are not timeously available for trading, but the cost of products is typically higher given inefficiencies.”

The Ctrack TFI tracks the road, sea, rail, pipeline, storage and air-freight sectors.


Edited by Creamer Media Reporter



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