CAPE TOWN – Transnet has promised to deal with corruption and step up efficiency around its operations, which have taken a heavy knock over the past few years.
“Over the past ten years, we have injected capital of R42-billion into the network side. Yet the scale of the network is worse today than it was ten years ago,” Transnet acting CEO Tau Morwe said on Wednesday.
He told the Investing in African Mining Indaba, in Cape Town, that Transnet was putting an operating model in place that would focus sharply on its ability to deliver to its customers. Morwe said delivery across its iron-ore and coal lines was behind schedule this year.
“We need to ensure we deliver on the volumes we sign up for with our customers. To do that, we have to put the right things in place. We need to put in place an operating model that is fit for purpose. We will also start to look into areas where we can bring in the private sector.”
He said there had to be consequences for poor management.
“If there is no delivery, we cannot have the same people running the business.”
Morwe said Transnet was still dealing with issues emanating from State capture.
“We are revisiting the forensic reports and things that were not implemented. We will ensure that fair disciplinary processes are undertaken for individuals involved in issues of corruption.”
Irregular and illegal contracts with original-equipment manufacturers (OEMs) would be annulled through the courts.
“From beginning February, we will be negotiating with the OEMS to address issues around localisation, to ensure we deliver effectively.”
Morwe also touched on expansion plans aimed at growing South Africa’s heavy haul system by 111% over the next 10 to 15 years by extending the rail network from 2 103 km to 4 438 km.
He said a meeting had taken place with a Botswana delegation at the Investing in African Mining Indaba about the Waterberg heavy haul project . The project includes a potential rail link to unlock Botswana’s massive coal reserves and connect it to ports. There will also be a need to build a 3- to 4-km-long bridge to cross the Limpopo river.
Morwe said the project was expected to stimulate economic growth in Botswana and boost regional integration. A memorandum of understanding between Transnet and Botswana Rail was being reviewed by the Department of Public Enterprises.
“At the right time, the details of the project will be announced,” said Morwe.
The proposed Swaziland Rail link project of around 150 km would potentially result in a new heavy haul corridor of about 575 km.
Morwe outlined the urgent need to double the line at the Overvaal tunnel, south of Ermelo, in Mpumalanga.
The Overvaal tunnel is a 4 km stretch which has only a single line from Ermelo to Richard Bay. There is no alternative route in the case of a failure inside the tunnel, while the existing tunnel is deteriorating. The estimated repair time is six months.
“Last year, the rail line was [sabotaged]. We do not want to be in a situation where the coal line is brought to a standstill.”
A feasibility study on the Overvaal tunnel has been completed and Transnet is preparing to go out on tender.