The South African Association of Freight Forwarders (SAAFF) has called for support over how to prevent a repetition of supply disruptions that have racked the country in recent weeks
It reached out to both businesses and the government to draw up contingency plans as part of a joined working group.
SAAFF said it was vital these organisations made plans to return to daily operations as quickly as possible after unforeseen events over recent weeks, in order to keep supply chains running.
The association cited massive disruptions to South Africa’s supply chains including the cyber attack on state logistics firm Transnet, which brought ports to a virtual standstill for more than a week.
Transnet lifted a seven-day-long force majeure last week, which exempted the company from fulfilling its contractual obligations.
The logistics provider made the declaration after its operations were crippled by a cyber attack from a still undetermined source.
It added that ports are now working normally.In the preceding weeks, riots, ostensibly in protest against the jailing of former president Jacob Zuma, closed the Port of Durban and key freight arteries in the country.
SAAFF said the disruptions had led to “loss of trust, reputational damage, decreasing investor confidence, companies choosing to avoid using South Africa’s ports resulting in the loss of jobs and slow economic growth”.
It has joined the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition and other stakeholders to form the Supply Chain Security Working Group.
The group meets daily to track and monitor progress and find solutions to supply chain problems such as the massive gridlock at ports around South Africa.
South African organisations like Transnet and Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) are working on developing a standard operating procedure which will provide clear protocols across the extended supply chain.
The country is also working on improving communications within the supply chains and understanding how they affect the wider economy.
“We need to rebuild trust with importers and exporters (the cargo owners) to ensure logistics networks can support their brand promises to their end customers,” said SAAFF chair Juanita Maree.
“Transport nodes need to be developed and reinforced in the correct balance. Waterside, terminals, road and rail need to function together, with a strong supportive and escalation structure in the centre.”