President Cyril Ramaphosa says through both operational improvements and structural reforms, the Durban Port will reclaim its place as the best-performing port in Africa.
"As part of our Reconstruction and Recovery Plan, we will continue to work tirelessly to expand infrastructure investment and transform our network industries," President Ramaphosa said after his recent visit at the Durban Port.
In his weekly Newsletter, President Ramaphosa said if the port does not function efficiently, the entire economy suffers, from importers and exporters to consumers.
"On the other hand, if the port works well it can drive economic growth and position our country as a gateway to the region and the continent," he said.
When he visited Durban in October 2019, many local businesses and port users raised concerns about the performance of the Durban Port.
"Shipping companies in particular expressed concern about truck congestion and waiting times, ship berthing delays and anchorage times, poor maintenance of equipment and generally low productivity in the port," the President said.
There has been great progress over the past year in turning around the performance of the port despite the impact of COVID-19.
"These efforts are already showing results in improved maintenance of equipment, reduced congestion, quicker turnaround times and increased use of rail instead of road transport.
"Truck turnaround times have greatly improved. Similarly, the reliability of cargo handling equipment has improved to 80%, and is heading towards at least 95% to meet international benchmarks. Ship waiting times have reduced to impressive levels.
"While this is important progress, there is still much work to be done to position Durban as a world-class port and as a hub port for the Southern Hemisphere," President Ramaphosa said.
During his visit at the Port, the President clarified matters relating to fears raised by SATU about the privatisation of the Port and stated that Transnet is not going to be privatised but partnerships are going to be forged to create more jobs.
The aim of the visit was to ensure that commitments made following the President's meeting with port users and stakeholders in October 2019, have been implemented.
A multi-party work team has been established, together with port users, to address key issues related to port performance.
While this progress is a reflection of the hard work that is being done to reposition the port, there is still much work remaining to ensure the port system serves the needs of the economy and promotes growth.
The new management of Transnet and its operating divisions are focused on improving operational performance, increasing investment in port and rail infrastructure and ensuring adequate maintenance of equipment.
The Department of Public Enterprises and the Department of Transport, with support from Operation Vulindlela, are working to implement structural reforms that will modernise and increase investment in the transport sector.