Further improvement in the financial position of South Africa’s transport holding group Transnet has increased the prospect of partial or complete privatisation. The multi-mode corporation is being focused into business groups, with restructuring likely to lead to sweeping job cuts across many sectors, including senior management. So drastic have the changes been that 10000 senior managers have formed a union to try and protect job security. The move was prompted by a proposal to make Spoornet managers take a competency test to keep their jobs.

Many jobs are expected to go at Spoornet, despite profits estimated at R1·4bn to R1·6bn, up from R712m last year, and a R98m loss the year before (RG 9.97 p557). Again, a healthy contribution was made by the Richards Bay coal line. In contrast, national flag carrier SAA continues to be a financial burden, making South Africa one of the few countries where rail is, in effect, subsidising air. Payments to Transnet’s pension fund have also drained the group financially.

HInternational tenders for up to 10% of Sarcc commuter services, to be called next year, may include one or more build-operate-transfer schemes, to be selected from new line proposals for Gauteng, Kwa-Zulu-Natal, Western or Eastern Cape. o