In response to the challenges faced by the Port of Richards Bay, President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced the government will make rail transport a temporary measure to facilitate the movement of products earmarked for export. EWN reports that this strategic decision aims to alleviate the backlog at the port, a crucial hub for coal exports, where congestion issues have significantly impacted daily operations. During a tour to assess the extent of the business disruptions, Ramaphosa highlighted the toll that the collapsed railway infrastructure has taken on government businesses, emphasising the need for efficient alternatives to address export challenges.
The congestion, compounded by many trucks, has led to delays lasting days, weeks, and even months, further necessitating the shift to rail transport. Ramaphosa, addressing journalists after the tour, stressed the efficiency of railways over road transport, envisioning a long-term plan to reduce truck usage on roads and prioritise rail transport for exported products.
“In the end, we want the trucks off the roads, we want the products that are going to be exported on rail, and we are working towards that plan,” said Ramaphosa.
To address the infrastructure challenges and enhance the functioning of the Port of Richards Bay, the government is considering a substantial investment of up to R160 billion. Ramaphosa noted that the private sector would also play a significant role in these improvements.
Meanwhile, in response to inefficiencies at the Port of Cape Town, Western Cape Premier Alan Winde announced plans to meet with the Minister of Trade and Industry, Ebrahim Patel. Like Richards Bay, the Port of Cape Town has experienced congestion issues, causing delays in vessel turnaround times. Some vessels have even bypassed the port due to its underperformance, contributing to economic challenges.
Winde emphasised the urgency of finding solutions to the problems affecting the country’s ports, particularly in ensuring the timely export of quality products, such as agricultural goods.
“Cabinet, this week, has asked that we engage directly as a province with Minister Patel. I have already had an offline discussion with him on the port. We have quality products, specifically our agricultural products, that cannot be delayed in ports, and we have to find solutions to fix this problem as quickly as possible.”
Picture: X / PresidencyZA
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