Talks have started aimed at resolving the lengthy logistical delays faced by car makers and component suppliers at South Africa’s docks. 

NAAMSA, the car makers’ association, and Transnet, the company behind South Africa’s transport system including docks and railways, have set up what they describe as ‘a high-level joint task team’ to solve both short-term and long-term problems.

Short-term initiatives, which the team hoped to resolve in the next six months, include dealing with what are described as “massive delays” caused by the introduction of a new container management system at Durban, said NAAMSA OEM head Evan Dold. 

Speaking at the 2011 Automotive Industry Conference, he said other short-term projects included decreasing the number of vehicles being moved by road to and from ports for import or export by switching them to rail, increasing the efficiency at ports and reducing the cargo dues on inbound and outbound vehicles.

Longer-term projects included the acquisition of new rail car wagons, improving the Eastern Cape–Gauteng rail corridor and reducing cargo dues on containers used to ship components. Cooperation with Transnet was only one new initiative from the purchasing council, said Dold. Another was for component and vehicle manufacturers to investigate sharing inbound and outbound logistical costs where possible.

Dold said it could be possible for manufacturers to combine their cargo on certain routes, such as from India, which could enable shipping lines to increase shipping frequency and reduce freight rates.

“There is potential here. This initiative is still only in a planning phase, though,” he added.