State mulls national shipping carrier

Fikile Mbalula says government is looking to spearhead transformation in the transport sector.
Fikile Mbalula says government is looking to spearhead transformation in the transport sector.
Image: The Times

The government is considering establishing a national shipping carrier as part of a push to transform the transport sector, particularly in the maritime and aviation industries.

This comes as SA Airways (SAA) is undergoing business rescue in the face of  liquidation. The national airline joins a long list of state-owned entities that were either looted at the height of state capture or are mired in deep financial trouble.

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula announced last week that the government had taken over the running of embattled Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) for a year.

Mbalula said in written replies to questions published in parliament last week that the government was looking into the establishment of a national shipping carrier as a means of building strategic national shipping capacity and capability.

“As a maritime nation with a coastline in excess of 2,500km, which is strategically located on one of the busiest shipping routes, surrounded by three oceans on the eastern, western and southern seaboards, we are steadfast on our commitment to position the oceans economy as a strategic contributor to economic stimulation and growth,” he said.

“In recognising our contribution to the country’s efforts towards realising inclusive growth, we must prioritise the acceleration of interventions that will unlock the potential of the oceans economy and drive transformation in an aggressive way.”

He told parliament his department had a number of initiatives that would allow for transformation in the transport sector and “increase economic participation by those aspiring to enter the industry”.

“The department will very soon reinstitute the Transport Sector BBBEE (broad-based BEE) Charter Council, which will champion the work of the previous charter council and spearhead transformation of the transport sector, particularly industries such as aviation and maritime, because of being untransformed.”

The main objectives of the charter council included the facilitation and implementation of programmes to fast-track B-BBEE in the transport sector to “ensure that a favourable environment for broad-based BEE to flourish exists”, said Mbalula.

The council would also ensure implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the transport sector’s B-BBEE codes, which were “frameworks that drive the nation towards the empowerment of black people, black employees, black entrepreneurs, black women, black people living with disabilities and black youth within the sector”, the minister said.

The government would also focus on creating awareness in the industry and addressing the skills shortage in ensuring the development of black professionals and help in tackling acute transformation challenges in the aviation, road freight and maritime sectors.

“Education and information is a key factor that enables individuals to know how to enter the transport sector,” Mbalula said.

“There is a guideline booklet on business opportunities in the transport industry for B-BBEE companies. It is aimed at assisting companies, especially emerging companies and any other party interested in doing business in (the) transport industry, to identify business opportunities.

“It has not been an easy task to holistically explain the opportunities accessible in all transport sectors, hence there wasn’t information at hand to refer people to. In this booklet, all transport subsectors are separately looked at in terms of the opportunities available to establish a business.”


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