Modern ports the key to Africa's economic success: Fikile Mbalula

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula addressed the African Ports and Rail Evolution conference in Durban on Tuesday.
Transport minister Fikile Mbalula addressed the African Ports and Rail Evolution conference in Durban on Tuesday.
Image: File Photo

A day after Ekurhuleni mayor Mzwandile Masina controversially tweeted that Durban harbour should be closed “so that no minerals leave the country”, transport minister Fikile Mbalula has called for ports to be modernised.

This, said Mbalula, would fast-track economic growth.

Mbalula delivered the keynote address at the African Ports and Rail Evolution conference in Durban on Tuesday.

He said despite the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area, set up to promote economic integration and growth, the continent still faced “serious operational and infrastructure inefficiencies”.

“We must move faster to establishing a regional regulatory authority to enforce agreed harmonised standards.”

Mbalula said while challenges in the rail sector were being addressed, there was an “urgent need to mobilise regional resources to modernise the country's ports to improve turnaround times.

“There are serious infrastructure backlogs that hinder efficient cross-border transportation systems. These manifest in many missing links on continental rail corridors and poor port infrastructure,” said Mbalula.

“Inefficiencies are also reflected in the high costs of berthing due to longer dwell times, by international standards.

“There is also a need for us to look at our tariff regimes carefully to make ease-of-doing-business improvements continent wide.”

Mbalula pointed out, however, that the SA National Ports Regulator had “done a lot of tariff redress”, in line with what President Cyril Ramaphosa had directed.

Ekurhuleni mayor Mzwandile Masina has been blasted following his tweet to close the Durban Harbour “so that no minerals leave this country”.

Masina’s tweet was lambasted by economists, who said his suggestion would hurt the economy.

“Democracy is nice and good, but to get our full independence from Western imperialists we must close down the Durban Harbour so no minerals leave this country. In that way, international manufacturing will descend to SA since we hold 90% of platinum, which the works so need,” read Masina’s tweet.


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