The Road Freight Association (RFA) is dismayed and gravely concerned about the cyber-attack on Transnet. This is creating massive delays and creating unreliability of the movement of goods across all modes of transport – with road freight bearing the brunt of the impact.
Transnet advised its customers on 22 July that “it is currently experiencing a problem with some of its IT applications, and we have had to shut them down to identify the source of the problem”. We have received confirmation from the parastatal today that Transnet has “identified the source of disruption to its IT systems and that the technical teams continue to work around the clock to ensure that the impact remains minimal”.
The gates to ports are closed which means no trucks are moving in either direction. This has immediate effect: the queues will get a lot longer, deliveries will be delayed and congestion will increase. The manual processes being used are also creating problems in terms of operations. Road freight operators already have a huge backlog resulting from last week’s civil unrest. The delays at the port will further exacerbate the problem. Deliveries will become unreliable and unpredictable – adding further inefficiencies into the supply chain. The system needs to be adapted to ensure this sort of thing cannot happen in future. In the meantime, an alternative system (even if manual) needs to be put in place to ensure freight keeps moving into and out of the ports.
The implications for South Africa, both in the short- and long term, are serious. The past five years have seen our ports deteriorating further. In a World Bank report issued earlier this year, the Port of Durban was listed as one of the three worst ports in the world – out of 351 ports that were assessed. The effects of the cyber-attack are going to result in further reputational damage to South Africa. This further threatens our country’s status as the ‘Gateway to Africa’ for the import and export of goods
If this matter is not addressed urgently, the non-functioning of our ports will be yet another reason why international traders and shippers will choose other ports in Africa through which to move our goods.
Gavin Kelly – Chief Executive: The Road Freight Association.