by AKANI CHAUKE
JOHANNESBURG – PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa said his government must address its logistics architecture for South African companies to make the most of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
His sentiments come after he, last week, launched the first export shipment of goods produced by local companies destined for other African countries under the preferential trade provisions of the AfCFTA from the Durban port.
With this, South African companies have a great opportunity to take advantage of the AfCFTA by exporting their goods into the rest of the African continent.
However, in order to take this opportunity up, the country must ensure its products are shipped at the least possible delay and at the lowest possible cost.
Ramaphosa noted that for some years now the efficiency and competitiveness of local ports and rail networks have been in decline.
“In order to give our companies the ability to take up these export opportunities we need to fix our logistics architecture,” he said in his weekly letter.
Transnet, which operates local ports and freight rail lines, has had to contend with severe challenges, including the effects of state capture, the impact of the COVID pandemic, natural disasters and rising levels of theft and vandalism of its infrastructure.
As a result, the volume of goods transported on the rail network has decreased significantly, forcing more companies to use trucks and causing congestion on our roads.
Ramaphosa said working together with the private sector, the government was turning the situation around, guided by the Freight Logistics Roadmap that was crafted by Transnet, government and social partners.
The roadmap outlines a set of actions to stabilise and improve Transnet’s performance in the short term and to fundamentally reform the logistics system in the long term.
South Africa has initiated the National Logistics Crisis Committee (NLCC), which is chaired by the Presidency.
At the Port of Cape Town, which is preparing for the fruit season, Transnet has deployed new leadership.
The number of ships waiting to berth at the Port of Durban – which has experienced severe congestion in recent months – reduced from more than 60 ships in mid-November to 12 ships at the end of January.
– CAJ News