Transnet aims to fix SA mining export shortfalls with procurement of locomotives

Portia Derby, CEO, Transnet

TRANSNET, South Africa’s government-owned logistics and freight company, intended to procure new locomotives in an effort to ease the rail crisis encountered by the country’s mining firms, especially in the coal sector.

BusinessLive cited Transnet Group CEO Portia Derby as acknowledging that having sufficient locomotives were critical in order to make infrastructure improvements more effective. “We know we need to improve the investment in the infrastructure, but … if you don’t have a locomotive, no matter what state your infrastructure is, you can’t move it,” Derby told the publication.

Transnet will come out with the new procurement event for locomotives before end-July, said BusinessLive in its article.

Derby also responded to the constant barrage of criticism the company was under by the mining sector. “The thing that we have been sitting on and weighing up is ‘what is the point of responding to them every time when they go to the press?’ Because that’s about them.

“We understand exactly the situation we are in and they know exactly what it is we are doing to provide redress, as far at least as the locos [locomotives] are concerned”.

Roger Baxter, CEO of Minerals Council SA, told BusinessLive the industry, which missed out on about R35bn in 2021 from contracted coal, iron ore and chrome volumes that could not reach ports, would welcome any workable solution that Transnet procured. The council and its members are looking for an opportunity to collaborate.

“We are not pointing fingers or anything like that, we are looking at … what the solutions could be to make sure that we can get ourselves back to target this year because we are fairly behind schedule on all the major bulk commodities,” Baxter said.

South Africa’s coal industry has been most critical of Transnet saying that billions of rands were lost in revenue as well as taxes and royalties that would have rolled into the national fiscus owing to restrictions on the coal line.

In order to achieve 60 million tons (Mt) in export coal deliveries, mostly from the Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces this year it will need to improve by 9% in the second half of the calendar year.

Transnet railed 58.72Mt last year – its worst performance since 1996 – and well off its installed capacity of about 80Mt annually.