South Africa News

Pravin Gordhan confirms third-party access on rail network

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has confirmed that Transnet will have third-party access on the rail network in a bid to boost the economy.

Gordhan said they also want to increase the volumes of products on the rail network.

“In order to provide industrial segments with more access to global trade and commercial networks, Transnet is repositioning its rail network and terminals to improve operational efficiency and capacity expansion,” Gordhan said.

“This is supportive of the Port of Durban being repositioned as a hub port for containers and automotives and Richard’s Bay as an effective bulk commodities port.”

He said that they want to put an additional 60 million tonnes on the rail and this will include manganese, iron ore, ferrochrome, and magnetite in the next three to five years.

Gordhan was replying to a written parliamentary question from Democratic Alliance member of Parliament (MP) Ghaleb Cachalia.

Cabinet this week discussed the crisis in ports and rail.

Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said they welcomed efforts by Transnet to clear the backlog of thousands of containers stuck at sea.

President Cyril Ramaphosa was in Durban and Richards Bay last week where he met with Transnet management over the crisis.

Ntshavheni said in Cape Town much of the backlog has been cleared. However, Transnet was trying to get equipment from overseas to clear the backlog in Durban and Richards Bay.

The National Union of Mineworkers will next week march to the Union Buildings to urge Ramaphosa to resolve the Transnet crisis as it was affecting the mining sector.

The union has said 35,000 jobs were on the line in the mining sector due to the fact that products were no longer transported by rail, but they are put on the road.

Gordhan said they want to improve the performance of Transnet and they will bring in third party players.

“For the first time, Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) will no longer be the sole provider of freight rail services, as private train operating companies (TOCs) will be able to operate on the freight network. TFR must be vertically separated into its component parts, namely operations and infrastructure, as part of the envisaged policy reforms and the Freight Logistics Roadmap’s recommendations,” Gordhan said.

“The appointment of the interim rail infrastructure manager (RIM) on November 1, is proof that this process is well under way. In order to foster stronger cooperation between Transnet and the private sector and develop a vibrant rail sector, the establishment of a RIM is essential,” he said.

“Transnet’s strategy is based on repositioning the organisation to deliver against the economic needs of the key market segments that it serves. There is a considerable opportunity to expand volumes (+/- 60 million tonnes of additional volumes) in the bulk mining commodity space, particularly in respect of iron ore, manganese, ferrochrome, and magnetite, in the next three to five years.”

He said they were bringing in third-party players in the rail network and this will ensure improved performance by the freight logistics company.

Gordhan said Cabinet approved the national rail policy last year March. The presidency also put together a roadmap on the rail sector.

He said by allowing third-party access on the rail network will increase competition.

-IOL Politics

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