Urgent intervention is required to address the impasse at the Port of Ngqura, which is destroying jobs and severely impacting the Eastern Cape economy.
Recent revelations have highlighted how illegal industrial action, in the form of a go-slow, have exposed the cracks caused by the continued mismanagement at the port through which trade is being jeopardised. Trucks have had to wait for up to 18 hours before being offloaded, and vessels attempting to collect shipments have been stranded outside of the port for up to two weeks.
I have written to the Premier and to the MEC for Finance, Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism in the Eastern Cape, Mlungisi Mvoko, and requested that they urgently engage the Transnet board in order to prevent any further job losses and loss of income in the Eastern Cape.
I have also escalated the matter to my colleague in Parliament, Shadow Minister of Public Enterprises, Natasha Mazzone, who has written a letter to the Transnet board to request urgent intervention at a national level.
In his SOPA address, Premier Oscar Mabuyane, spoke about creating small harbours in Port St Johns, Port Alfred and Gonubie to create jobs. Step one should be to get the harbours we have operating efficiently, so that the province can preserve the jobs we have.
The significant impact that the go slow is having on the citrus industry is of great concern. The premier has said that agriculture is a gateway out of poverty and unemployment, and yet, one of the key agricultural sectors of the province is being held hostage by deliberate delays at the harbour.
Citrus transported from farms in Addo, for example, cannot enter the port to deliver their produce to the cold storage units, and vessels cannot enter the port in order to collect the produce. This is impacting severely on international exports during peak season, and despite good harvests, producers are being penalised for factors completely outside of their control.
Also significantly impacted is the automotive industry, which is one of the main drivers of the province’s economy.
If the port continues to under-perform, the Eastern Cape will face severe job losses in key sectors of the provincial economy. The same sectors that the premier held up as part of his strategic plan to halve unemployment by 2030.
We cannot afford to allow this to happen.
The Democratic Alliance has a clear plan to fix State Owned Entities, such as Transnet. SOE boards and top management must have commercial expertise and requisite skills to create environments in which decisions are made with profitability or sustainability in mind.
The reality is that while our SOEs are failing, the biggest losers are the average citizens on the ground, as service delivery is no longer a priority for parastatals.