The South African Association of Freight Forwarders (SAAFF) and the Minerals Council South Africa is calling on the government to urgently handle the Maputo Corridor crisis of record-high congestion that has cost trucking companies more than R1.3 billion in revenue to date.
The crisis in the corridor, which links Gauteng, Limpopo and Mpumalanga to the Mozambican capital Maputo and its port, has been festering since August.
It is estimated the trading corridor, through which commodities such as coal, chrome, steel and timber are transported, can have between 800 and 1 200 truck drivers crossing a day.
These high volumes, compounded with operational inefficiencies, have reportedly meant that in the past few weeks some transporters have waited for more than three days to cross into Maputo.
SAAFF chief executive Dr Juanita Maree said: “These delays are resulting in loss of confidence, loss of business and they are threatening the stability and sustainability of trade, transport, employment and job creation in SA.”
According to SAAF and the Minerals Council, lack of traffic management, restricted operating times, inadequate infrastructure and tensions between the SA and Mozambican governments are the main sticking blocks
where urgent intervention is needed.
“The greatest challenge to the border crossing is the lack of 24-hour operations, resulting in crossing times increasing from an average of one hour to more than 20 hours since 2019,” they said.
To address the congestion and alleviate pressure on transporters and business, the two bodies identified six solutions:
- The two governments need to address underlying tensions, as they present a stumbling block to trade and result in costly delays and deterioration in services on both sides of the border posts;
- Establish a 24-hour border post. Currently the border operates from 6am to 10pm, which is not only inadequate to deal with high volumes of port-bound minerals in transit, but is also costly;
- Reinstate traffic management which was – because of the pandemic – disabled and classified a nonessential service;
- Infrastructure adjustments at Lebombo exit gate to avoid general cargo exports from delaying port-bound transit cargo moving out of SA to Maputo harbour;
- Put in place standard operating procedures at the Komatipoort dry port and the Ressano Garcia KM4 terminal to help regulate costs and maximise value for transporters; and
- Establish a public-private partnership corridor management institution to facilitate trade and develop capacity in the corridor to ensure predictability, reliability and efficiency in cross-border trade with Mozambique.
“The absence of a platform for engagement between public-private sector stakeholders; the absence of consistent monitoring and communication and integration of activities to support efficiencies is another major non-tariff barrier to trade,” they said.
Maree added: “The public and private sector stakeholders are willing to work together to resolve the issues, but will require the support of an enabling environment created by the public sector.”
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