Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Dr Mimmy Gondwe MP
The evolving Transnet rail and port crisis is threatening to collapse South Africa’s entire export sector, and by extension the national economy. Amidst all the chaos, there is a gaping leadership vacuum from President Cyril Ramaphosa’s National Logistics Crisis Committee, the Minister of Public Enterprises – Pravin Gordhan, Minister of Transport – Sindisiwe Chikunga and Transnet itself.
Despite irrefutable evidence that the rail, port and road bottlenecks have reached crisis levels, none of the aforementioned parties have made a discernable effort to appraise the country on the steps that they are taking to resolve the issue.
Within the next few days, the DA demands a clear multi-agency response to map out the bottlenecks at ports with a view to providing interim measures that will provide relief to the affected parties. The DA is therefore calling for:
• A public address by the National Logistics Crisis Committee on steps being taken by the national government to resolve the ongoing port crisis;
• A clear plan from Transnet to expedite the processing of ships at ports, including the repair and maintenance of port infrastructure;
• Minister Gordhan to provide an update on the deal that Transnet entered into with the Philippines-headquartered International Container Terminal Services Inc (ICTSI) which was the preferred bidder for a 25-year joint venture to develop and manage Durban Container Terminal (DCT) Pier 2.
• As part of the long term interventions, Minister Gordhan should also provide details on steps being taken to increase private sector participation in port management.
• A national summit, comprising stakeholders in the export sector, Transnet and government to find solutions that will resolve the ongoing crisis while offering long term interventions to make our port operations more efficient.
Last week the DA wrote to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises, Khaya Magaxa, and requested that the Committee undertake urgent oversight visits to the Durban and Cape Town ports.
Today the DA has again written to the Chairperson of the Committee, to request that in addition to the oversight visits to the Durban and Cape Town port, the Committee also undertake an urgent oversight to the Richard Bays Port. It is imperative that Parliament plays its part to fill the leadership void that has been created by an ineffective ANC government and now threatens to collapse the economy.
It is simply unacceptable that Transnet is clamoring for a R50 billion bailout to supposedly fix its problems but is yet to table its turnaround plan in Parliament. The plan which is an operational turnaround plan for the embattled entity, once tabled in Parliament will need to be carefully scrutinised by Members of the Committee on Public Enterprises.
The DA maintains that for any plan to, completely, turn the fortunes of Transnet around, it must not only contain and communicate achievable and timebound targets but also targets that speak directly to each of the large scale challenges that the entity is currently experiencing, including the operational efficiencies plaguing its port operations.