The Road Freight Association (RFA) on Friday said it was “dismayed and gravely concerned” about the cyber attack on Transnet and the resultant delays at ports.
“This is creating massive delays and creating unreliability of the movement of goods across all modes of transport – with road freight bearing the brunt of the impact,” said the RFA in a statement issued by its Chief Executive Officer Gavin Kelly.
Transnet advised its customers on Thursday, 22 July, that it was, “currently experiencing a problem with some of its IT applications, and we have had to shut them down to identify the source of the problem”.
Kelly warned: “If this matter is not addressed urgently, the non-functioning of our ports will be yet another reason why international traders and shippers will choose other ports in Africa through which to move our goods”.
He said the RFA had received confirmation from the parastatal on Friday that it has identified the source of disruption.
Transnet said technical teams continue to work around the clock to ensure that the impact remains minimal.
“The gates to ports are closed, which means no trucks are moving in either direction,” said Kelly
“This has immediate effects: the queues will get a lot longer, deliveries will be delayed and congestion will increase.”
The manual processes that are in use create problems in terms of operations.
Kelly said road freight operators already have a huge backlog resulting from last week’s civil unrest. He said the delays at the port will further exacerbate the problem.
“Deliveries will become unreliable and unpredictable – adding further inefficiencies into the supply chain,” said Kelly.
“The system needs to be adapted to ensure this sort of thing cannot happen in the future.
“In the meantime, an alternative system (even if manual) needs to be put in place to ensure freight keeps moving into and out of the ports.”
Kelly said the implications for South Africa, both in the short- and long term, were serious.
“The past five years have seen our ports deteriorating further,” said Kelly.
In a World Bank report issued earlier this year, the Port of Durban was listed as one of the three worst ports in the world – out of 351 ports assessed.
“The effects of the cyber attack are going to result in more reputational damage to South Africa,” said Kelly.
“This further threatens our country’s status as the ‘Gateway to Africa’ for the import and export of goods.”