Transnet projects to boost jobs

2012-04-11 00:00

TRANSNET’S R300 billion investment in capital projects to beef up the country’s rail and port networks could create between 100 000 to 150 000 job opportunities in KwaZulu-Natal.

KZN is one of the main beneficiaries of the seven-year project, known as Transnet’s Market Demand Strategy (MDS).

The province is also set for a massive economic injection, with more than R89 billion spent in the province during this period.

An estimated 588 000 direct and indirect job opportunities are expected to be created nationwide.

Transnet said yesterday that the bulk of the money would be spent on building rail capacity to transport greater volumes of key commodities like manganese, coal and iron ore.

The limited capacity of the country’s rail infrastructure has long been a major source of concern as this has placed constraints on our export capabilities.

The strategy will also provide the mining and industrial sector with a cheaper and safer means of transportation.

Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) will be integral to the success of the strategy. The state-owned entity aims to ramp up rail volumes from 200 million tons to 350 million tons by the end of the period.

Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) CEO Andrew Layman described the announcement as “absolutely tremendous”.

He told The Witness that although the move is long overdue, it will improve the functioning and perfor­mance of the industrial and mining sectors.

“KZN will be heavily involved in the project. We’re the source of the pipeline; we have two ports and I would think that the shift from road to rail has been necessitated in part by the problems on the N3,” Layman said.

Layman said the KZN business community should step up to the plate and capitalise on the opportunities presented by the strategy.

“Some of this work will be outsourced. It’s time for KZN businesses to get to the head of the queue,” said Layman.

Almost half of the money to be spent on locomotives will be spent in South Africa.

KZN-based economist Graham Muller welcomed the move, but added that Transnet must reduce its per unit cost of services to end users like shipping lines, freight forwarders and commodity exporters.

Stressing the importance of productivity and efficiency improvements, Transnet expects to increase container volumes handled at the ports by 76%.

“South Africa’s transport costs are high relative to the rest of the world and this inhibits our competitiveness in export markets.

“If Transnet can implement productivity improvements, the investment will be worthwhile,” Muller told The Witness.

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