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South Africa: Scrap Metal Export Ban a Boost for Transnet

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Transnet says government’s ban on the export of scrap and waste metal will go a long way in the fight against metal theft.

Government recently announced that the six-month ban is aimed at making it difficult for criminals to sell stolen copper cables and other metals.

State-owned companies (SOCs) such as Transnet, Eskom and PRASA [Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa] have become a target for metal and cable thieves, costing South Africa’s economy billions of rands annually.

“We are pleased that government has acted decisively against the scourge of metal theft, which doesn’t just plague Transnet. Transnet Freight Rail [TFR] has a rail network infrastructure of 30 400 km in track, and theft and vandalism of our infrastructure results in delays on the system and possible derailments.

“TFR has long viewed this as economic sabotage. Since 1 April 2022, there have been more than 377 export coal trains cancelled due to security incidents, which is about an average of 11 trains a week. Whilst this is an improvement compared to the 2021/22 financial year, the security solution is not sustainable,” the SOC said.

Transnet revealed that since the beginning of the financial year, it has lost some 742km of cable to criminality.

“Transnet has received assistance from coal customers in funding security on the North corridor from Ermelo to Richards Bay. This allowed the company to deploy additional security task teams and drones. As a result, there has been a 30% reduction in security incidents. However, the security incidents have not reduced sufficiently to completely reduce the impact on train cancellations.

“The announcement by government will go a long way to mitigate the security challenges experienced by TFR and industry. TFR looks forward to government’s finalisation of a more permanent legislative solution to curb cable theft,” the company said.

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