South Africa: “eight great challenges for eight different ports”
Interview with Tau Morwe, CEO of Transnet National Ports Authority -TNPA (04/11/2014)
TNPA is adapting its governance to a complex economic and institutional context in order to make the eight ports it manages more competitive. Its strategy is based on improved port-city integration. The 14th World Conference Cities & Ports in Durban has allowed them to confront the country’s challenges as they advance towards the Smart Port City.
You are the administrator of 8 ports. How is it manage so many port, wich difficulties and advantages give that?
The main difficulty resides in administrative management, which can be very diverse. We have eight great challenges for eight different ports. This is the reality for ports within complex systems of governance… think, for example, of regional municipalities and those at local level. Faced with this multitude of administrative levels, Transnet proposes a global approach with a vision and a development project for all of these ports as a whole. This allows us to create an integrated system. In summary, this provides: a sometimes-troubling administrative diversity, compensated by political centralisation and an integrated vision.
Can you explain which are the port city challenges that you are experiencing in your administration?
Mainly, discussions about a plan for improved city-port integration. The railway system could be a key part of that plan’s infrastructure.
However, above all, the port must have efficient connections with its hinterland. To do this, it has to tackle the problem of traffic congestion. If I have to mention a principal challenge it has to be that one.
How is the central port policy contributing to the performance impacting of port city territory in terms of jobs, infrastructures and added value?
The city of Savannah is an example in this area. It has successfully developed an industry linked with port activities, thereby creating jobs. Today, central authorities must implement integrated project management, thus permitting dialogue between port and city and, above all, solving problems linked to congestion.
After 6 years of economic, ecological and resource crises, what has changed for the port cities?
We have experienced a reduction in investment, a factor which has stopped our development capacity in its tracks. Now, we have to look at the long-term…. First and foremost, we must plan.
What’s next challenge for “ecosystem” of the port-city of Durban?
“Walk-in Centers” are the next step. Durban has to follow the examples of Savannah and Cape Town where projects of this type are already underway. We have to give our citizens the opportunity to re-enter the port, an approach which leads to improved understanding of its activity. That will, as a result, generate more opportunities for trade and economic development for the port.
What is a Smart Port City?
It is a port city which does not reduce everything to its capacity to be connected from a numerical point of view. A Smart Port City, above all else, is a synonym for economic and social development.