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Picture: 123RF
Picture: 123RF

After nearly two years of operating with a depleted board, Transnet now has a new board. This is welcome and the new board, chaired by former Anglo American head Andile Sangqu, must be given a chance. 

Supposedly to provide continuity, former chair Popo Molefe and fellow nonexecutive director Sydney Mufamadi have been reappointed. 

The challenges facing the board are obvious but hard to tackle. In the past three years, the performance of the state-owned freight transport company has deteriorated considerably, causing commodity exporters to miss out on a commodity boom. Volumes are down, and unlikely to recover any time soon thanks to inefficiency and shortage of locomotives. 

Critically, the old board and management failed to resolve a long-standing dispute with CRRC, the Chinese locomotives manufacturer, which has seen more than 100 locomotives being parked due to lack of parts. 

The new board will need to lean on management to up its game in improving operational efficiency and accountability. Until now, management blamed everything on corruption and took no responsibility for its share of the rot.

Sangqu’s board also needs to oversee Transnet’s reluctant bid to allow the private sector to participate in its ports and rail freight infrastructure.

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