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Department of Public Enterprises commits to addressing port reform
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Department of Public Enterprises commits to addressing port reform

PCC Roadshows highlight port inefficiencies and challenges

SOUTH AFRICA: Admitting that the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) had failed to provide effective oversight of the ports over the last ten years, Lebohang Ntwampe, Transport Economist at the DPE, made a commitment to correct this during yesterday’s Port Consultative Committee (PCC) roadshow session for Cape Town port users.

The roadshow, which ends today, focused on reviewing the performance of South Africa’s port as well as outlining port plans.

“We just disappeared or played a very low profile when we were required to be playing an oversight role in as far as Transnet is concerned.”

Ntwampe, was candid in his assessment of the DPE’s visibility. “We just disappeared or played a very low profile when we were required to be playing an oversight role in as far as Transnet is concerned,” he told participants during the session.

Acknowledging that this lack of oversight had precipitated many of the challenges currently being experienced within the port environment, he said that the department fully intended to support Transnet in correcting these issues.

“Going forward there are efforts that have been put in place to address these challenges,” he said mentioning the establishment of the National Logistics Crisis Committee (NLCC) as well as interventions within the rail policy environment and the development of a Freight Logistics Roadmap.

“As we work more closely with the Department of Transport (DoT) to strengthen the regulatory framework, the DPE will be more hands on and more involved,” he resolved.

Ntwampe also confirmed the Department’s intention to deploy people to the PCCs and NPCC as well as focus the attention of the relevant ministers – particularly the Minister of Public Enterprises as well as the Minister of Transport.

The representative from DPE also addressed the issue of corporatisation of Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA). He confirmed that the recently appointed TNPA board was in the process of registering TNPA as a subsidiary and addressing the remaining issues around establishing the memorandum of incorporation.

“I believe that in the coming PCC meetings there will be a fully-fledged presentation to explain the genesis of this corporatisation,” he said, describing the process as a critical issue that needs to be discussed.

“The authority has the responsibility to stand as an authority and not necessarily as part of Transnet,” he noted as he emphasised the need for TNPA to enforce performance measures over its sister company, Transnet Port Terminals.

“We have seen instances whereby the authority may have acted in sympathy (towards TPT) and not acted in its stance as an authority.”

“We have seen instances whereby the authority may have acted in sympathy (towards TPT) and not acted in its stance as an authority,” he added.

The PCC Roadshows – now in their tenth year – have never attracted the participation of the Department of Public Enterprises and it is believed that this is a welcomed development.

For his part, Ntwampe recognised the contribution made by the PCC as well as the port community and undertook to make a note of the concerns that had been raised at during the roadshow sessions.

“My mandate today is to really pay attention to the inputs that the port community raises; the challenges that they have experienced and the solutions that are proposed to see how we align capacity and how we hold TNPA and terminal operators (to account).”

“It is my belief that the South African port system deserves an effective oversight for maintaining high standards of operation. We look forward to being able to address the issues of inefficiencies that have been pointed out,” he said in his closing remarks yesterday.

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