The freight transport section of the National Development plan 2050 is nothing short of a disgrace – Francois Nortje

Director of Distribution Junxion at Port of Gauteng Francois Nortje joins the BizNews Power Hour to unpack the flaws inherent in the freight transport section of the National Infrastructure plan (NIP) 2050 that was gazetted on the 10th of August. ‘This plan is totally flawed, extremely arrogant, written to benefit Transnet only and removed from reality’ says Nortje, who calls the backward looking plan nothing short of a disgrace. Transnet is one of a number of struggling state-owned enterprises that have been the subject of mismanagement and corruption, which have resulted in operational constraints and challenges. The World Bank recently ranked South African ports at the bottom of a global list of 351 ports – outlining the need for Transnet to urgently invest and reinvent itself. Ironically, according to Nortje – the freight transport plan will be doing the opposite and not keeping up with the trends of the logistics industry globally. – Justin Rowe-Roberts

Francois Nortje on the freight transport section of the NIP 2050:

If you look at the end of the plan – it’s sometimes easier to start with the back – how are we going to do it? There is a bullet point that says 50% of the truck kilometres in South Africa will be eliminated by – I stand to be corrected, but I think 2030. They want to eliminate 50% of the truck kilometres in South Africa currently driven. They want to move 25% to Transnet – to rail – and another 25% will have disappeared because of improved logistics. So that’s why I’ve called it what I’ve called it. Transnet is suddenly going to get all this truck business, even though they’ve been losing business to the truckers. And then suddenly, I don’t know who wrote this plan or who these geniuses behind this plan – that stands on the outside, looks at this competitive logistics industry and says you are 33% unproductive. You can lose 25% of your kilometres. You are such bad planners. Imperial, Supergroup, Pick n Pay, Checkers, Unitrans – all these private companies that invested millions in their own trucking business – that’s got guys with degrees, industrial engineers working for them. You are so unsophisticated, you left billions on the table. It is so far-fetched. Then the bullet in front of it, they want to take all the market share of palletised long distance stuff in South Africa.

On the new trends within the logistics industry: 

There’s two trends that’s happened. One we’ve missed – globally logistics has moved to gas trucks quite extensively over the last 10 years, as gas has got cheaper. People give me a lot of grief now because gas in England has suddenly gone and that but gas is still much cheaper than diesel. So trucks have moved to do diesel and it has reduced the gas trucks costs. But what it also did, it took a lot of demand for crude oil out – about five million barrels a day where people switched to gas and were not using diesel or petrol that comes from oil. So the entire fuel cost in the world is reduced because of gas. Now, South Africa hasn’t got imported gas, but we’ve got the benefit of low fuel prices worldwide because of gas substitution.

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