A challenge thrown down by ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula at the weekend for Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, to “get things moving or we will move you” drew an immediate response from Gordhan.
Mbalula was referencing the problems which caused the recent truck torchings and ongoing gridlock of trucks – mainly at South Africa’s ports of Richards Bay and Durban – where rail access issues are playing a major role.
Gordhan said there was no doubt that the more general operations of Transnet needed to improve.
He added that the recently announced new Board of the giant logistics parastatal would have this top-of-mind.
“I believe that this mix of board members brings sufficient expertise to handle the problems within the limitations that exist, but it will not be simple. We need to rely on other partners such as the police to curb crimes such as the theft of property – and more specifically cable theft – and then the judicial system must impose harsh penalties on the guilty,” Gordhan said.
He added that the disagreements with Chinese locomotive manufacturers over issues of payment had not helped, admitting that there were instances where insufficient operational locomotives were available to provide the services required.
“Transnet needs to instil a sense of urgency to rectify its problem which will take courage to, for instance, move out the wrong people who are critical to its operations if they cannot perform the role.”
With regard to financing, he said that the public and private sector had to work together to facilitate solutions, much like had been achieved with the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral).
Responding to the Minerals Council South Africa statement regarding the R50-billion price tag Transnet’s problems have cost the country in lost trade, he said that his department and other relevant stakeholders had met at various levels to discuss the problems and possible solutions.
“We have had a number of meetings at many levels with the Council to discuss the problems that it has said cost the country R50bn because of the faltering Transnet services. What I can say is that the political will is there to try to overcome these,” he concluded in an interview on Radio 702 this morning.