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The appointment of an interim Infrastructure Manager at Transnet is welcomed and is a step in the right direction for rail reform in South Africa, says industry body African Rail Industry Association (ARIA).
Transnet recently announced the establishment of an interim Infrastructure Manager (IM) with effect from April 2024. This is a further step towards facilitating the entry of private third-party operators onto the country’s freight rail network, says ARIA CEO Mesela Kope-Nhlapo.
“ARIA congratulates Transnet on this announcement, and we hope extensive consultations will take place before the terms and conditions and the service level agreements are announced next year,” she says.
“ARIA believes that for rail reform to be meaningful, and in line with the National Rail Policy, it is important for all stakeholders to be involved in these consultations. There has to be transparency around this process so that the outcome is equitable and fair to all parties,” Kope-Nhlapo says.
“We would also strongly caution that the mistakes from the first attempt at private sector involvement onto the rail network are not repeated. The initial attempt involved onerous conditions that simply are untenable for the private sector.
“The insistence that all private sector parties adhere to the Transnet Bargaining Council is uncompetitive. Transnet cannot use its dominant position to force private operators into their labour agreements. The Bargaining Council requirement is a deal-breaker for the private sector,” she says.
Kope-Nhlapo says while it is important that the NRP is implemented and private sector money flows into the network to guarantee Transnet’s future success and the economic success of the country, the complexity of the process should not be underestimated.
“It is going to require a huge effort to get this right. We encourage Transnet to fully implement the proposals of the NRP so that we can get money flowing back into the rail industry,” she says.
Issued by ByDesign Communications on behalf of ARIA CEO Mesela Kope-Nhlapo