Ongoing delays at port killing jobs, economy

Issued by Nqaba Bhanga, MPL
Shadow Eastern Cape Premier

Despite the illegal strike action at the Ngqura Port Terminal (NPT) having reportedly come to an end, Transnet has indicated that it will take two weeks, at the very least, to get back on schedule.

This, while the Eastern Cape economy continues to lose tens of millions of rands every day.

The Eastern Cape automotive sector is losing an estimated R42-million a day. The citrus industry, despite a bumper crop, is battling to get their products to market. Worse, the reputational harm being caused, as being an unreliable supplier, means that international markets have started looking elsewhere.

In his state of the Province address, Premier Oscar Mabuyane said less talk, more action, but it appears that what he meant to say was no talk and even less action. My colleague Yusuf Cassim MPL has been writing to the Premier every day for the past week and a half, asking for his intervention, and he has yet to receive so much as a reply.

What use is having world class infrastructure, if it is crippled by a militant workforce, who do not care that their actions are destroying the economy and placing thousands of jobs, including their own, on the line?

It has been nearly a month since the illegal strike action began, and while suspensions have been carried out, the situation has not normalised. Container vessels are delayed for up to a week, and turnaround times are more than double what they should be.

Why has there been little to no action from the provincial government on the issue? Where is the sense of urgency to address these matters?

I have escalated this matter to my colleague in Parliament, Shadow Minister of Public Enterprises, Natasha Mazzone, and we will be conducting an oversight visit to the port to determine what can be done to address the significant backlogs at the terminal.

In a province that has the highest unemployment in the country, we cannot allow a few individuals to place what few jobs there are, at risk.

Transnet officials also need to be held to account and urgent intervention in terms of improving capacity to address current backlogs, as well as improve operating conditions going forward, need to be put in place.

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 people. This cannot be allowed to continue.