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Johannesburg – Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has said that within the next decade, if all worked well, there could be a massive increase in the capacity of the Durban port, which was then expected to handle 60% of the container traffic into and out of South Africa.
During a briefing on Monday on the latest developments within Transnet, Gordhan said a port master plan has been developed for the port of Durban and was undergoing consultation processes.
The plan would serve as a basis for investment in the port, in respect of both the port infrastructure governed by the Transnet National Ports Authority and the terminals and freight infrastructure that services the ports.
“There are two reforms that have come to form – the first is the announcement by the president on the establishment of the National Ports Authority as an independent subsidiary of Transnet, and significant progress has been made in establishing the infrastructure of subsidiary and the kind of role it will play in relation to investments in each of the ports in order to facilitate the efficiency of the ports.
“The second key reform area is exploring the potential for investment in the port terminals in Durban and the Ngqura port in the Eastern Cape. On Monday, two requests for information (RFIs) were issued by Transnet in respect of the second aspect of the reforms.
“These reforms are in line with the structural reforms that the president and government have indicated will be forthcoming from Transnet but other entities as well. This is a further demonstration of government’s commitment to continuing with structural reforms in improving the efficiency of the logistics infrastructure. This will create opportunities for partnerships with South African and international businesses,” Gordhan said.
The freight sector, Gordhan said, has also been receiving attention, notwithstanding the many challenges it faced, particularly in relation to cable theft and other forms of disruption that the rail sector has been confronted with.
“It’s in this context of undertaking recovery, reconstruction but also importantly reforms that we locate what is happening in Transnet at the moment and what the plans are for the next couple of years.
“There’s a clear and defined process put out by Transnet which is issuing the RFI as of July/August this year. Between now and September there will be further engagements.”
Transnet group chief executive Portia Derby said partnerships were required to improve the performance of the port systems.
Chairperson of the Transnet board Popo Molefe said the board was on track to reforming Transnet. “What we are doing is to invite the private sector to participate in key infrastructure projects that we are embarking upon.”
Gordhan also commended the work of Transnet despite the many disruptions it has seen. He said the board and management have been able to reposition the state-owned enterprise as a fairly effective operating entity, while dealing with many issues.
“The events and achievements over the last two years must also be placed in the context of the economic recovery and reconstruction plan in which the reform of the network industry plays a critical part.
“In the past two years, the board and management have undertaken activities that have enabled them to largely, but not entirely, recover from the effects of state capture. Those effects are now much better understood by the public as a result of the evidence presented to the Zondo commission.”