Untu appeals to Cyril Ramaphosa to protect Transnet against sabotage
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Labour Union, the United National Transport Union (Untu), has appealed to President Cyril Ramaphosa to protect Transnet against sabotage, vandalism, and criminality.
Untu general secretary Steve Harris said Transnet had to endure numerous setbacks due to the inefficient support from other key role players over the past year, which has hampered the goals of its executives to restore Transnet to the leading rail and logistics entity in Africa.
"In the latest blow, the information technology systems of Transnet shut down after it has been allegedly hacked overnight in a cyberattack," he said.
On Thursday, Transnet, which operates major South African ports, including Durban and Cape Town, and the railway network that transports minerals and other commodities for export, confirmed in two separate statements that its IT applications were experiencing disruptions, and it was identifying the cause, without confirming a cyberattack.
According to Harris, Transnet sent out a statement to employees to explain that it had to shut down some of its IT applications to identify the source of the problem. All operations had to continue using manual systems, which results in delays.
Harris said this incident comes while Transnet is slowly recovering from what Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula described to the British Broadcasting Corporation as a “coup”, the vandalism and looting in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.
"The Minister admitted to the BBC that the South African Government “probably took longer than we were supposed to” to respond to the severe situation," said Harris.
According to Harris, Transnet reported that it had suffered a loss of more than R259 million due to the impact of the unrest at the Ports of Richardsbay and Durban.
Transnet employees couldn't report for work due to the dangerous situation, road closures, and fuel shortages. This resulted in a backlog in the moving of goods in and out of the ports.
“It is heartbreaking that our ports and rail infrastructure, where employees have continued to place their lives in danger throughout the Covid-19 pandemic to ensure that goods, foods, and commodities reach its destinations and to keep the economy going, has been so severely impacted by the criminal conduct of a few lawless individuals,” said Harris.
Transnet also reported this week that, despite all its efforts in arresting more than seven hundred (700) individuals for cable theft, there had been no decrease in the incidents it has to endure daily.
According to Harris, cable theft is the biggest cause of delays in the on-time arrival of freight and passenger trains of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) in the country. It costs the South African economy between R5 billion and R7 billion per year and has increased to unprecedented levels since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020.
Untu said it once again appeals to Ramaphosa and Police Minister Bheki Cele to explain to South Africans why adequate law enforcement is absent in the transport sector, specifically in the rail, ports, trucks, and taxi environments.
“President Ramaphosa is failing in his duty to hold Mbalula accountable for the negative impact on the South African economy due to the ongoing disruptions in the various sectors of the transport industry,” said Harris.
BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE