Transnet: SMMEs want to get on board

● Naf­coc pitches for more work and op­por­tu­ni­ties for small busi­nesses at en­gage­ment ses­sion with paras­tatal

The Herald (South Africa) - - Front Page - De­nee­sha Pil­lay pil­[email protected]­soblack­

Transnet must con­sider open­ing up chan­nels for SMMEs and in­volve the com­mu­nity in its projects if it wants to meet the re­quire­ments of the coun­try’s eco­nomic sec­tor.

That was one of the sug­ges­tions made by the Na­tional African Fed­er­ated Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try (Naf­coc) at a Transnet en­gage­ment ses­sion held at the Port of Ngqura on Thurs­day.

The state-owned en­ter­prise is look­ing to re­po­si­tion it­self in a man­ner that makes it more cus­tomer-cen­tred.

Act­ing Transnet group chief ex­ec­u­tive Tau Morwe said while the paras­tatal had in­vested bil­lions into var­i­ous projects, lit­tle had been achieved in terms of in­fra­struc­ture.

Morwe said much of the world was “miles ahead” of SA in terms of trans­port.

“We need to ad­dress the is­sue of op­er­a­tional per­for­mance,” he said.

“The state of the rail net­work has wors­ened over time.

“We need to be­gin shift­ing and re­think­ing.

“There are other mod­els used in the world that clearly show that it is pos­si­ble for other stake­hold­ers, other than the state, to be part­ners.”

Morwe said that dis­cus­sions around rail re­form were nec­es­sary to en­sure that Transnet was able to meet the re­quire­ments of the busi­ness com­mu­nity.

“Do we as Transnet have ad­e­quate ca­pac­ity to do what the econ­omy re­quires or is it high time to be­gin bring­ing in part­ners?

“If you look at agri­cul­tural prod­ucts, we are do­ing quite poorly be­cause most of the time we are still on the road.

“If you find your­self on the N3 be­tween 2am and 5am, there are a num­ber of trucks on the road – it’s cargo that ought to be on rail.

“We need to en­gage more with lo­gis­tics providers and see where they can as­sist in in­ten­si­fy­ing some of the rail lines.”

Naf­coc ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee mem­ber Lwan­diso Mpet­sheni sug­gested that Transnet open up chan­nels through which small busi­nesses could op­er­ate af­ford­ably.

Mpet­sheni said rates at Transnet Prop­er­ties’ lo­ca­tions were largely un­af­ford­able for small busi­ness own­ers.

“We have been look­ing for a prop­erty for our small man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pany and we tried to look for space at Transnet Prop­er­ties.

“But the rates that they have are rates for big com­pa­nies. I want to make a plea to Transnet that they should con­sider cre­at­ing spa­ces and mak­ing them avail­able to small busi­ness own­ers at af­ford­able rates, rather than at the uni­form rates that they charge large com­pa­nies,” Mpet­sheni said.

“At present, we are forced to op­er­ate these busi­nesses within our garages at home and within spa­ces that are not re­ally con­ducive to what we need to man­u­fac­ture.”

Morwe agreed that for Transnet to pro­mote small en­ti­ties, new rules would need to be put in place specif­i­cally for small busi­ness op­er­a­tions.

“Not only in prop­erty, just as long as they agree that when they get big, they move away from the rules of the small busi­ness,” Morwe said.

Naf­coc re­gional gen­eral sec­re­tary Mandla Msizi said it wanted to be part of the de­ci­sion-mak­ing process on Transnet’s ma­jor projects such as the water­front devel­op­ment and the re­lo­ca­tion of the man­ganese and tank farm site.

“The man­ganese is be­ing moved from town [Port of Port El­iz­a­beth] to the Port of Ngqura,” he said.

“Two months ago, we were promised that as early as Novem­ber we would be en­gaged as stake­hold­ers.

“We sent a num­ber of re­quests to say to the port man­agers that ‘we are here’ and ‘we want to know what the role of lo­cal busi­ness peo­ple will be when that project comes’,” Msizi said.

“As Naf­coc we would like to be part of the de­ci­sion-mak­ing go­ing for­ward, as op­posed to only bring­ing our points once the projects have been im­ple­mented,” he said.

But Transnet Na­tional Ports Au­thor­ity CEO Shu­lami Qalinge said Transnet had ex­pe­ri­enced in­tim­i­da­tion from the lo­cal com­mu­nity in terms of the op­por­tu­ni­ties af­forded by the two ports. “The peo­ple who will be given the op­por­tu­ni­ties will be the peo­ple that meet the re­quire­ments.

“When you in­ter­fere with what we are try­ing to do, it’s then that we will have to look at peo­ple out­side of this com­mu­nity, even though as Transnet that is not what we would like to do,” she said.

Qalinge said the com­pa­nies that had won the ten­ders – such as the Oil Tanking Grindrod Calulo Hold­ings tank farm site – had con­trac­tual obli­ga­tions in terms of sup­plier devel­op­ment.

“They then have to re­port back in terms of the progress they have made.

“My plea is that we work to­gether, co-op­er­ate and col­lab­o­rate,” she said.

“These are ma­jor projects, we are talk­ing about bil­lions of rands that we in­tend to spend in be­tween these two ports and there will be more de­vel­op­ments com­ing as well.”

Transnet Freight Rail gen­eral man­ager Zeph Ndlovu said the fact that much of the trans­port sec­tor was re­liant on roads, was hav­ing ad­verse ef­fects on main­te­nance costs for the depart­ment of trans­port as well as tax­pay­ers.

“The mi­gra­tion back from road to rail is a must.

“We also have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to re­duce the car­bon foot­print,” Ndlovu said.


BACK ON TRACK: Transnet is work­ing on re­viv­ing SA’s rail net­work, in­clud­ing in Port El­iz­a­beth har­bour, shown here

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