Ctrack transport, freight index shows deterioration in all but one of six sectors tracked

29th March 2024

By: Irma Venter

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


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After increasing somewhat in December, the Ctrack Transport and Freight Index (TFI) declined notably in January to a level of 119.3 – a drop of 2.1%, compared with December’s 121.9.

The extent of the weakness is almost similar to the pressure the sector experienced during the KwaZulu-Natal looting and flooding episodes, notes the index report.

The Ctrack TFI measures the performance of South Africa’s sea freight, road freight, air cargo, rail, pipelines, and storage and handling sectors.

“The abrupt deterioration in January is indeed a stark reminder that the [transport and freight] sector still faces many challenges at the beginning of 2024,” states the TFI report.

Some good news is that the index is still 5.1% above levels seen a year ago.

Compared with this period last year, four of the sectors managed to increase in January, with only the road and air freight sectors contracting.

In January, five of the six sectors declined compared with December, however, with only sea freight expanding.

After tumbling in October and November, reflecting the inability of South Africa’s ports to handle cargo, owing to a multiplicity of factors, the sea-freight component of the index started to recover in December, and increased further by 2.8% in January.

The road freight sector, the biggest among the sectors, experienced multiple headwinds in the last few months of 2023, and recorded a slow start to the new year.

This sector declined by 1.2% in January, compared with December, and slipped marginally below year-ago levels.

Heavy vehicle traffic on the N3 route (large and extra-large trucks) declined by 2.6% in January, compared with a year earlier, while heavy vehicle traffic on the N4 route declined by 4.6%.

“Furthermore, total country road freight payload also declined by 4.4% year-on-year, confirming the broad-based slack in road freight in January – probably a reflection of the mediocre performance of the broader economy,” states the TFI report.

The air freight sector declined by 3% on a monthly basis in January, reversing the recent positive blip, spurred on by the country’s port troubles.

The number of unscheduled flights typically chartered for cargo purposes declined by a notable 18.3% in January.

A sizeable increase in the rail freight subsector recorded in October last year turned out to be short lived, with this sector of the index sagging back to its mediocre levels since then, declining by 7.6% month-on-month in January.

The storage and handling sector of the Ctrack TFI declined by 1.7% on a monthly basis in January, but remains 15% above year-ago levels.

Lastly, the transport of liquid fuels by Transnet Pipelines declined by 2.1% in January, compared with December, while it still tracks higher on a yearly basis, up 9.9%.

Edited by Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor



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