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South Africa hopes to increase its citrus exports by 1.5 million tons in nine years if Transnet is reactivated

Transnet is the freight train that backbones South Africa and has requested a bailout of around 5,3 billion dollars, which is why currently, 95% of the fruit in South Africa is transported to the ports by trucks.


Transnet, South Africa's freight train.

South African Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana will present his Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) tomorrow. The Citrus Growers Association of South Africa (CGA) is calling on the minister to prioritize Transnet's financial recovery.

Transnet has requested a bailout of 100 billion rand (about US $5,3 billion) from the Treasury to finance its ambitious recovery plan. "While the government has recklessly bailed out state-owned companies in the past, Transnet is the backbone of our country's export economy and deserves immediate attention from the government," said Justin Chadwick, CEO of the CGA.

The CGA is calling for Treasury support for Transnet's recovery plan, but this support should be conditional on further expansion of public-private partnerships on rail and port projects. "We have welcomed these types of projects in the past, including the selection of International Container Terminal Services (ICTSI) for the development and upgrade of Pier 2 of the Durban container terminal. Greater private sector participation is essential and faster processes through which such participation is guaranteed if real change is to be achieved at Transnet," warns Chadwick.

The CGA underlines the "urgency with which it is necessary to reactivate Transnet." Freight rail offers citrus growers enormous advantages in getting their produce to ports, as due to the deterioration of our rail network, 95% of all fruit in South Africa is currently transported to ports by road in trucks.

"If all local actors work together, the projections are that in the next nine years, another 100 million 15 kilo boxes of citrus will be able to be moved from our orchards to the ports. That would mean a job creation figure of 100,000 and 20,000 million additional rand in revenue. Without a functional rail network, this growth will not materialise. Our roads simply cannot handle the additional volumes, which translates to around 900 truck trips per week to the port of Durban alone in peak season." - explains the CEO of the South African Citrus Growers Association - "Well-functioning ports are also crucial. The dysfunction of our ports is also a threat to growth. Currently, South African ports move an average of 16 containers per hour, while the European average is 33 and the Middle East average is 43", so the CGA is expectant before Minister Godongwana's political statement, hoping that "he will be clear about the central role of Transnet in our economy, and that the government provides the entity with the support it needs, with the understanding that public-private partnerships must be expanded without delay," Chadwick concludes.

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