by AKANI CHAUKE
JOHANNESBURG – LABOUR issues and infrastructural challenges at main trade ports could hamper plans to ensure export-led growth in South Africa’s agricultural sector.
Industry experts raised concern following the recurrent strikes in the country’s harbours as workers demand increase in pay. There are also promotion disputes.
The Agricultural Business Chamber (AGBIZ) noted other reports suggesting that the strikes had been resolved.
“Whatever the situation, the bottom line is that there will be delays in export activity,” the organisation stated.
There has been recent strikes by employees at some ports, most severely at the Ngqura Container Terminal in Port Elizabeth, much to the concern of the Citrus Growers’ Association of Southern Africa.
Mike Fanucchi, Chief Customer Officer at Transnet, the ports company, said consequently the container, automotive and citrus industries had been disrupted.
The two-week go-slow has cost the economy an estimated R1 billion ($72,1 million).
The Citrus Growers’ Association of Southern Africa has opted to transport consignments of the perishable products through Durban and Cape Town for export, which comes at an extra cost.
A further setback has been suffered with the organisation expressing concern about the poor performance of the Durban port. This has led to delays in shipments of citrus products.
The Durban port, which is South Africa’s prime facility, is facing technical issues such as narrow roads which often lead to congestion.
Other concerns are lack of investment in maintaining and refurbishing the port and inadequate cold storage infrastructure.
AGBIZ said this was worrying as South Africa has recently been hailed for having logistics that are comparatively more efficient than most industrialising countries.
However, the country has relapsed from 2016’s ranking.
This is based on the World Bank’s logistics performance index (LPI), which ranked South Africa 33rd out of 160 surveyed in 2018. It was rated 20th in 2016.
Such setbacks are hindering the government’s plan to expand South Africa’s agricultural footprint in export markets.
– CAJ News