Continues from last week
For exporters and importers, competitiveness translates into a demand for intermodal services that provide speedy movement through ports and terminal transfer facilities to landside transportation. It also translates into a demand for ready access to the transportation information that is needed by all parties to the various transactions involved in trade. There is a sense of urgency among some port stakeholders who maintain that there is not enough spending on construction, operations and maintenance for ports.
The future competitiveness of the port system and infrastructure will be influenced by the following capacity issues:
•Land use in and around the ports;
•Demand and constraints on intermodal connections;
•Advances in information technologies and navigational systems; and
•Increasing dredging requirements.
Thus, there is a need to improve the productivity, throughput capacity and accessibility to meet the expected growth in international trade.
The port authority’s tariffs in future should be based on the principles of user pays, cost-based tariffs and adequate return on capital employed. The South African port system should remain financially autonomous and not require subsidization from the State.
As the policy aims to achieve long-term benefits for the country as a whole, government encourages beneficial intra-port competition but cautions against destructive competition.
The primary function of the port system will be, as gateways to the world, to operate with modern infrastructure provided by dependable funding sources, using optimal technology. In terms of capacity, efficiency, safety and security and environmental enhancement, the ports will be world class. The inland transportation capacity will match the ports throughput.
In order for our ports to truly become globally competitive, and thereby enhance the competitiveness of South African enterprises, the economy and the region, the port system must be encouraged to develop and progress to the status of the most modern ports internationally, within a reasonable period of time. The National Port Authority of South Africa will pursue this agenda with vigour and Government will do all it can to support the port authority in its endeavours, particularly with regard to creating a unified port community, integrating the port with trade and logistics chains in the transport network and the development of world class technologies.
This implies that ports:
•are no longer passive points of interface between sea and land transport;
•play an active role in the world transport system and promote the port concerned;
•play an active role in stimulating trade;
•will become dynamic nodes in complex international production/distribution network; and
•will become integrated transport centers and logistics platforms for international trade.
8. TRADE FACILITATION AND INTEGRATION
Ports needs to act as creative partners in international trade development and facilitate trade processes at sea / land interface. Policies dealing with transport infrastructure must therefore ensure that cognisance is taking of trade and economic policies, strategies and programmes and that alignment between what the economy requires and what the transport system provides are more coherent.
The logistics system needs to support trade by facilitating the efficient movement of goods, by providing visibility of where goods are in the logistics chain and by providing a seamless administrative process. In facilitating trade, customs regulations and practices need to be improved and streamlined. Government will assist in facilitating the design and implementation of efficient, enhanced communication, and information systems. Further Government will assist in trade documentation harmonization efforts. In particular, Ports will be required to supply service providers with adequate technology infrastructure to enable the efficient management of trade processes.
9. SUPPORTING AN INTEGRATED INDUSTRIAL STRATEGY
Government’s industrial strategy seeks to harness regional complementarities with the aim of promoting economies of scale and developing an integrated regional production system. This strategy depends on our ability to leverage knowledge and technology to integrate backward and forward linkages with production processes. Although this strategy is relevant to all manufacturing, government has identified certain priority sectors for implementation. Integrated logistics, as a key component of the supply chain process, will play a critical role in the success of this approach.
The Ports Authority will ensure that the National Ports Development Strategy and that individual Port will prioritize and be responsive to the physical and technology infrastructure that is required to support the integrated industrial strategy. In particular, the Authority will prioritize the provision of infrastructure to those manufacturing sectors that government has identified as strategic.
10. SUSTAINABILITY AND VIABILITY
These concepts cover environmental, economic and financial issues and form the basic premise on which this policy is based. Sustainable development in its simplest form is development that will endure, whereas another definition states “sustainable development is development which meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. Viability requires that benefits exceed costs. Benefits and costs include economic and social-economic concepts as well as the multiplier effects. Socio-economic matters include job creation, the promotion of SMMEs, increasing the national skills base through capacity building and training of employees, increasing trade and tourism.
10.1 Environmental sustainability
Environmental sustainability emphasizes the interdependence of social and economic development and environmental protection. It is an accepted norm that all transport infrastructure development investment decisions consider the environmental implications through a process that entails the identification of the factors, and assessment thereof. For new projects, these assessments should be done at an early stage and should influence the design of individual projects. For existing port facilities however, this process is ongoing at agreed upon frequencies and when significant shifts due to growth are experienced.
The Government’s new policy for environmental management indicates that all development that might have an impact on the environment will have to follow the Integrated Environmental Management (IEM) process, thereby providing sufficient information to decision-makers as to the impact of the development on the environment. Different tools may be used to ensure IEM, which could range from Strategic Environmental Assessments and Plans, which take place on a more strategic level, to Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA), which are more project specific assessments.
This policy on commercial ports is in line with government’s policy on environmental management, as indicated above, and asserts that the environmental sustainability of ports should be assessed as a prerequisite, whether on strategic planning level or for individual projects, using the appropriate tool. The new EIA regulations list ports as an activity for which an EIA will be compulsory in any case.
Any development of a new port, or major developments at an existing commercial port, will have to be environmentally sustainable and conform to the norms, standards and regulations of national and provincial environmental policies and legislation. Environmental assessments will take into account national and provincial legislation, the regional effects and induced economic impacts, as well as the potential consequences of broad economic conditions.
10.2 Economic sustainability and viability
The development of ports and transport infrastructure in general coupled with the development of associated value adding industries can yield significant economic and socio-economic benefits for the region and for the country as a whole.
11. 11. HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT
The majority of workers in the port operations are unskilled with a high level of illiteracy, thereby limiting their ability and the industry to adapt to technological change and improve efficiency and levels of service.
The Government will, through the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETA), move towards a culture in which labour is seen as a resource and not merely a production cost. The Government will assume some responsibility for enhancing capacity and for improving the human resource pool in the transport sector. The Government, however, does not accept sole responsibility for human resource development, and looks to all stakeholders inclusive of the private sector and labour to assist in overcoming the challenge.
12. COMMUNICATION AND CONSULTATION
To enable sustainable development, it is vital to have adequate consultation and discussion on the port facilities development and operations with relevant stakeholders. At present the processes and responsibilities for communication and consultation on port and port operation should be better defined.
International relations are the responsibility of the national Government. These include relations with SADC member states, other foreign countries and multilateral organizations. Where necessary, the provinces should also be able to communicate internationally through the NDOT.
Because of the influence of the larger ports on their environment and the important transport and economic role they fulfill, there are a number of authorities and organisations that have an interest in, or are affected by, ports and their operations.
There should be a consultative forum for such authorities and role players, where consultation could take place and information be made available. These local port consultative committees shall comprise of representatives of the port management and port based institutions whose elected members should comprise port, province, city and local business interests.