The South African Freight Forwarders Association (SAAFF) and the South African Minerals Council are calling on the government to urgently address the crisis in the Maputo Corridor, reporting record congestion that has cost transportation companies more than R1.3 billion in income to date.
According to the organizations, the crisis in the corridor, which links the provinces of Gauteng, Limpopo and Mpumalanga with the capital and port of Mozambique, Maputo, has been worsening since August.
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It is estimated that the commercial corridor, which transports a variety of commodities such as coal, chromium, steel and wood, can pass 800 to 1,200 truckers a day.
These high volumes, combined with operational inefficiencies, have reportedly meant that in recent weeks some carriers have waited more than three days to cross into Maputo.
SAAFF Executive Director Dr. Juanita Maree said in a statement: “These delays are causing a loss of confidence, a loss of business and threaten the stability and sustainability of trade, transportation, employment and job creation. in South Africa “.
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What is causing the delays?
According to the SAAF and the Minerals Council, the lack of traffic management, restricted operating times, inadequate infrastructure and tensions between the governments of South Africa and Mozambique are the main pain points that need urgent intervention.
“The biggest challenge for border crossing is the lack of 24-hour operations, which causes crossing times to increase from an average of one hour to more than 20 hours since 2019,” they said.
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To find a way forward and address congestion at the border and ease pressure on carriers and businesses, the two agencies have identified six solutions.
- The two governments must address the underlying tensions as they represent an obstacle to trade and ultimately lead to costly delays and the deterioration of services on both sides of the border posts.
- Establish a 24-hour one-stop-shop border post. Currently the border operates from 06:00 to 22:00; This is not only inadequate to deal with large volumes of minerals in transit to the port, it is also costly.
- Restore the management of traffic that, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, was disabled and classified as a non-essential service.
- Addressing infrastructure adjustments at the Lebombo exit gate to prevent general cargo exports from delaying in-transit cargo bound for the port leaving South Africa to the port of Maputo.
- Implement standard operating procedures at the Komatipoort dry port and the Ressano García KM4 terminal that will help regulate costs and maximize value for carriers.
- Establish a public-private partnership corridor management institution to facilitate trade and develop capacity in the corridor to ensure predictability, reliability, and efficiency in cross-border trade with Mozambique.
“The absence of a platform for engagement between public and private sector stakeholders in the corridor; the absence of consistent monitoring and communication, facilitation and integration of activities to support efficiency, is another important non-tariff barrier to trade, ”they said.
“Public and private sector stakeholders in the Maputo Corridor are willing to work together to resolve issues urgently, but will require the support of an enabling environment created by the public sector,” Maree said.
Impact on drivers and the local economy
Inefficiencies at the port have a severe impact not only on the people in charge of transporting goods across the border, but also on local businesses and sectors.
Long waits at border posts are especially demanding for truckers who are forced to sit in queues that are 7 to 15 km long, in extreme heat, without access to food, water and toilets.
“Efficient corridors have a significant impact on the competitiveness of local companies and regional economies because they provide a measure of predictability, reliability and fundamental efficiency for commercial and logistics supply chains, which is key to providing access to markets”, Maree said
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“The damage to the region’s people and economy from the current calamity cannot be allowed to get even worse, when stakeholders are prepared to work together to solve problems and ensure the best possible outcome for all.”