The South African 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.
Fikile Mbalula, minister for transport announced last week that the government has taken over the running of embattled Passenger Rail Agency of SA (PRASA) for a year.
These announcements are coming after state-owned South African Airlines went into business rescue in the face of liquidation.
According to Mbalula in written replies to questions published in parliament last week, said 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 has a number of initiatives that will 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 charter council will facilitate and implement programmes to fast-track B-BBEE in the transport sector to “ensure that a favourable environment for broad-based BEE to flourish exists.
The council will also ensure implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the transport sector’s B-BBEE codes, which are “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 focus of the government will be 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.
“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.