SAAFF challenges Ramaphosa ahead of his SONA

South African Association of Freight Forwarders (SAAFF) has taken a stand in challenging President Cyril Ramaphosa ahead of his State of the Nation Address on Thursday afternoon.

The association is calling for an urgent and vigorous wholesale reform following a statement that was made by Ramaphosa in his SONA address in 2022, saying Transnet will start the process of providing third-party access to its freight rail network from April 2022 by making slots available on the container corridor between Durban and City Deep in Gauteng.

Kobie Hyman, SAAFF spokesperson, said the private sector has remained the same since the president’s address.

“To date, the private sector has not seen any reform to provide third-party access to private operators across our national rail network.

“Make it count Mr President, South Africa needs a practical, sustainable and functional public-private-partnership to overcome chaos at Transnet Freight Rail.

“In his speech Ramaphosa said, Transnet has developed partnerships with the private sector to address cable theft and vandalism on the freight rail network through advanced technologies and additional security personnel.

“The opposite has been true. Although the deterioration of rail freight has been a reality for some time now, the astonishing acceleration of disruptive occurrences due to crime and malfunctioning equipment and stripped infrastructure in recent months has been nothing short of a disaster.

“SAAFF, on behalf of the logistics sector and in unison with private sector bodies, have continually called for decisive, drastic corrective action; the country needs a strong, competent, and independent regulator working across a multi-modal model.

“Failing to position an independent regulator runs a high-probability risk of the cargo rail system going from a public monopoly to a private monopoly, a position of exposure that SAAFF strongly opposes.”

He further urged both the public and private sectors to collectively deliver a solution and do this with the utmost urgency.

“We cannot emphasise enough the need for a functioning rail system. It is critical to understand the opportunity cost if we fail to cement reform with a sustainable, well-planned and properly implemented strategy. South Africa’s freight demand is exceedingly high, which requires a multi-modal approach. We need strong leadership and a change in direction in our SOEs, notably Transnet.”

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