Transnet seeks private boost for SA’s ports and Rail networks amid operational woes

Transnet is making strategic moves to address its deteriorating operational performance by promoting private participation in South Africa’s ports and freight-rail networks. The state-owned logistics company plans to establish an infrastructure manager by the end of October, allowing private companies to operate trains on vital freight tracks, and aims to form partnerships with private operators at major container terminals in Durban and Ngqura. These initiatives align with the government’s broader efforts to attract private-sector investment in the logistics and power industries, as state-owned enterprises struggle to deliver essential services and maintain efficiency.

Transnet to Create Unit in October to Enable Private Rail Access

By Antony Sguazzin

Transnet SOC Ltd. is pushing ahead with plans to boost private participation in South Africa’s ports and freight-rail networks as the state-owned logistics company’s operational performance deteriorates.

By the end of October it plans to create an infrastructure manager to allow private companies to run trains on key freight tracks, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, South Africa’s minister in the presidency, said in a statement on Tuesday. Those rail lines move cars, metals and coal to ports and import fuel and automotive parts.

Read more: Transnet on the hunt for ‘ghost trains’ depriving it of revenue

The company also expects to form partnerships with private operators at the Durban Pier 2 Container Terminal, part of Africa’s biggest container port, and at the Ngqura Container Terminal in the coming months. 

The drive to increase private-sector investment in South Africa’s logistics and power industries comes as government struggles to arrest the declining performance of its state-owned companies and deliver basic services to citizens.

The government is also helping Transnet to seek additional locomotives and is pushing law enforcement agencies to reduce the cable theft that’s idling sections of the Container Corridor, which carries goods to and from the port at Durban and the industrial hub of Gauteng. 

Read more: South Africa’s crucial ‘Container Corridor’ rail line crippled by cable theft

Ntshavheni also said: 

  • A Water Partnerships Office has been established in the state-owned Development Bank of Southern Africa to boost private participation in water re-use, wastewater treatment, desalination and sanitation projects
  • More than 10,000 megawatts of private power projects are now in various stages of development

“These reforms are necessary both to address the immediate challenges that we face, and to drive a fundamental transformation of our economy in the months and years to come,” she said.

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