AUGUST 4 did not bring the cataclysm that South African analysts had expected. Instead of Transnet’s losses for the year ending March 31 mounting to a predicted R750m from R253m last year, the state-owned transport group increased turnover and cut its operating deficit to R170m, much to the relief of Transnet Managing Director Saki Macozoma.
At face value, Spoornet’s results were particularly encouraging, with a R614m jump in profit to R712m. But this masks the fact that most of the increase came from higher coal and iron ore exports to Saldanha and Richards Bay, giving road hauliers ammunition in their fight against perceived cross-subsidies between bulk and general freight on the state-owned railway.
Spoornet Chief Executive Braam le Roux can take heart from the attention being given to South African Airways and the parcels business PX, which have suffered most under growing competition, but this merely emphasises that Transnet’s businesses, where open to competition, will have difficulty in surviving. Would Spoornet have done so well if Iscor, for example, were running rival heavy haul trains?
Following the successful sale of expertise, plus lease or sale of rolling stock to other African railways as far north as C