Neighbouring countries have reduced their dependence on South African ports and, consequently, on road, rail and supporting warehouse infrastructure.
According to the publication “Freight News”, this development follows the construction of a new container terminal in Walvis Bay, the revitalisation of the port of Beira, the upgrading of the Port of Maputo and significant improvements in Dar es Salaam.
However, these changes are still overshadowed by past experiences of poor memory.
About five years ago, “we did not use Beira/Walvis Bay/Dar-es-Salaam because 10 years ago we had cargo held up there for months”. This was the typical comment of a forwarder in Zambia or Zimbabwe.
To counter this negative image, the best response from Freight News was to give the forwarders and other operators a copy of the latest report on the port and country in question, giving an account of the progress made.
Few logistics operators in neighbouring countries have a good image about Durban and security once trucks cross the border into South Africa has become an obstacle.
At least one major transporter specialising in the Durban-Democratic Republic of Congo route went bankrupt because it kept all its eggs in what is described as a broken basket.
More agile companies have developed alternatives, running their trains between Ndola and Dar es Salaam, pioneering the DRC-to-Walvis Bay truck route and taking advantage of the historic links between Zambia’s Copperbelt province and Beira.
Maputo and Matola, which are the closest ports to Mpumalanga and Limpopo, have attracted significant volumes of commodities from Richards Bay and Durban.
Investment in reefer stacks, railways and container yard attracted citrus exports, which came to an end in 2015, largely because there was a shift from break-bulk freight to containerised transport.
When the Freight News reporter first went to Maputo, the port consisted of a series of warehouses filled with fruit, but those warehouses were demolished to make way for goods.
The capacity of the ports of Maputo and Beira has grown exponentially through private sector-led investment. Both are run through public-private partnerships.
A new partnership at the port of Walvis Bay will have more impact on cargo flow.
Carta de Moçambique