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‘Dysfunctional’ Maputo Corridor cost trucking companies R1.3bn in revenue

02 December 2021 - 12:41
The queue of trucks between Komatipoort and Lebombo is frequently between 7km and 15km long, the SAAFF says. File image.
The queue of trucks between Komatipoort and Lebombo is frequently between 7km and 15km long, the SAAFF says. File image.
Image: THAPELO MOREBUDI/SUNDAY TIMES

The SA Association of Freight Forwarders (SAAFF) and the Minerals Council SA (MCSA) have called for urgent action on the “dysfunctional” Maputo Corridor.

The government needs to address severe congestion at the Lebombo/Ressano Garcia border post, which the SAAFF says has cost trucking companies R1.3bn in lost revenue so far this year.

This after long delays in border-crossing times, with waits of more than three days in recent weeks, “worsening a crisis that has been ongoing since the beginning of August”.

SAAFF CEO Dr Juanita Maree said the delays have resulted in a loss of confidence and loss of business, and threaten the stability and sustainability of trade, transport, employment and job creation in SA.

“Efficient corridors have a significant impact on the competitiveness of local businesses and regional economies, because they provide a measure of predictability, reliability and efficiency central to trade and logistics supply chains — key to providing access to markets,” Maree said.

The biggest problem at the border is a lack of 24-hour operations, meaning crossing time has increased from an average of one hour in 2019 to more than 20 hours.

Covid-19 restrictions have worsened the situation.

“Transporters confirm that border-crossing times are the worst they have experienced in 15 years. The queue of trucks between Komatipoort and Lebombo is frequently between 7km and 15km long.

“This has serious humanitarian consequences, as drivers sit in their trucks for hours at a time when temperatures are above 40°C without access to food, water or ablution facilities.”

Damage to the people and economy in the region by the current calamity cannot be allowed to worsen further.
Dr Juanita Maree, SA Association of Freight Forwarders CEO

The SAAFF and MCSA want urgent, “intentional, focused and conciliatory bilateral engagements at the highest level of government”.

A 24-hour one-stop border post should be introduced.

“The operating hours of the border, 6am to 10pm, are inadequate to deal with the volume of port-bound minerals in transit.

“There are between 800 and 1,200 trucks using the Maputo Corridor daily, depending on the market-pricing cycle. The border operating times do not match the 24-hour operation of the Port of Maputo.”

Maree said public and private sector stakeholders in the corridor are willing to work together to resolve the issues urgently, but need the support of an enabling environment.

“This can be done by urgently implementing solutions which are both rapid and effective in a co-operative, partnership approach.

“Damage to the people and economy in the region by the current calamity cannot be allowed to worsen further when stakeholders are poised to work together to resolve the issues and ensure the best possible outcome for all.”

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