Functional transport sector is key to a successful economy

Transport Minister Barbara Creecy says an efficient and functioning transport sector is key to a successful economy. 'Our roads and rail network are the arteries of our nation, [they] should move people and goods safely, speedily and affordably across the length and breadth of South Africa and facilitate our connectivity with the African continent and the wider world,' Creecy said on Monday. The condition of roads, logistical and capacity issues affecting the freight network and road safety are just a few of the problems that have plagued the sector in recent times, she said at the opening of the South African Transport Conference currently underway in Pretoria. 'When our transport systems suffer, our economy faces depressed economic growth, declining investment and working people cannot get to their jobs affordably or on time and we see a rise in unemployment in a country that desperately needs more jobs,' the Minister explained. She added that the 7th Administration is aware of the challenges and aims t o address them comprehensively throughout the next five-year term. 'Areas of focus include key logistics corridors handling commodities that are essential to the export market and economic growth (such as coal and iron ore), addressing backlogs and congestion at strategic border crossings such as Komatipoort and Beitbridge, combatting congestion in key national highway corridors such as the N1 and N3, as well as interventions to combat cable theft and maintenance backlogs at Transnet. 'The National Logistics Crisis Committee (NLCC) is a young structure, and it is also being employed as a means to encourage more private sector collaboration and participation with Government as we address the many challenges South Africa is facing in the area of logistics,' the Minister said. Established last year, the Crisis Committee is chaired by President Ramaphosa and brings together all of the relevant government departments to drive a coordinated response to the logistics challenges. 'The workstreams of the Logistics Crisis Committee have been set up with personnel from key ministries, including from the Department of Transport and our Entities. The committee is working to ensure stability across the various supply chain and logistics sectors,' said the Minister. Creecy thanked her predecessor, Sindisiwe Chikunga, for her instrumental role in the establishment of the NLCC and in encouraging further engagement between the private and public sector in tackling the problems the country is faced with. The Minister said anchoring times for ships waiting to berth at the port of Durban have been reduced, and a terminal operator has been appointed to enter into a joint partnership with Transnet to develop and upgrade the port. 'PRASA [Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa] is continuing to reopen passenger rail lines severely affected by infrastructure damage and cable theft, with 28 of 40 priority lines being fully operational,' Creecy said. According to Creecy, as of March this year, 256 stations are fully functional in cit ies across the country. 'I can report today that continuous work is being done to rehabilitate and open up more strategic commuter corridors. This will ensure that the public can rely on safe, secure, punctual, and affordable public rail services that will not hinder their participation in the economy,' the Minister said. Source: South African Government News Agency