The Citrus Growers Association (CGA) calls on President Ramaphosa to provide an update on government’s efforts to address the serious challenges at South African ports in his upcoming State of the Nation Address.
This follows the commitment he made at a Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry business meeting last October. On that occasion, he said that he would meet with Transnet executives on a monthly basis to monitor what was being done to improve the dire situation at many of the country’s ports.
Ongoing problems, including aging and out of service infrastructure, staff shortages, prolonged industrial strike action and unnecessary red tape have proven a nightmare for fresh produce exporters.
The citrus industry, for example, exported 126 million cartons of citrus fruit to over 100 countries in 2019, bringing in over R20 billion in export revenue and supporting 120 000 jobs. While the industry expects another bumper year in 2020, it is highly likely that citrus exports volumes will be negatively impacted if the current problems at our ports persist.
This will inevitably result in reduced revenue for South African growers and exporters. And – over the medium to longer term – this will translate into job losses for the citrus industry and other sectors that rely heavily on the efficiency of our ports.
The CGA has been actively engaging with the new management at Transnet and welcomes recent steps taken by the company to address some issues, such as procuring new equipment for the Port Elizabeth and Durban ports. However, they understand that some of this equipment will only be delivered in a few months’ time, which means that infrastructure challenges are likely to continue hampering productivity at these ports.
It is estimated that inefficiencies at the Port of Durban alone is costing the economy R6 million on an average day and R10 million on a bad day.
It is clear that immediate action is needed from the government if they hope to turn around the current situation at the ports, so that further job and revenue losses can be prevented, says CGA.
“We therefore call on President Ramaphosa to use his SONA as an opportunity to provide an update on his engagements with Transnet executives and to present constructive solutions to overcome the challenges at our ports,” CGA states.
The CGA remains committed to working with government to expand market access and to drive increased agricultural exports as sought by Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni in his national economic strategy.
For more information:
Citrus Growers Association
Tel: +27 061 993 6672