Transnet’s Alleged ‘Ghost Train’ Syndicate: Unveiling a Multi-Million Rand Scheme
Transnet, the South African state-owned freight logistics company, is under scrutiny as allegations emerge of a criminal syndicate operating a lucrative “ghost train” scheme.
According to reports by Times Live, this illicit operation is believed to have raked in as much as R50 million in kickbacks.
SIU Investigates Transnet’s ‘Ghost Train’ Scandal
The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) is currently delving into the details of this alleged syndicate.
It is suspected to involve a network of Transnet employees and intermediaries within the freight logistics industry.
The ‘Ghost Train’ Scam Unveiled
The modus operandi of this scheme involves the surreptitious insertion of extra trains into legitimate orders paid for by mining companies, particularly for coal shipments destined for the Richards Bay Coal Terminal.
These additional trains are then rerouted through intermediaries to other buyers who acquire the coal at reduced prices, generating substantial profits for the syndicate. Each train is believed to yield illicit profits of up to R2 million.
Transnet’s Woes Deepen
This investigation compounds Transnet’s already extensive financial woes. The company reported a staggering R5.7 billion loss for the fiscal year ending on March 31, 2023, a stark contrast to the R5 billion profit recorded in the previous year.
During the same period, the freight rail business experienced a 13.6% drop in delivery volumes, attributed to factors such as mismanagement, idle locomotives, and cable theft.
Mining Companies Seek Alternatives
In response to the challenges faced with Transnet, some mining companies have opted for road transport instead of relying on the beleaguered rail services.
The Minerals Council, representing numerous local mining firms, estimates that poorly managed ports and freight rail lines may have cost the country up to R150 billion in lost exports in the previous year.
A Commitment to Revitalize Transnet
Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has pledged to revitalize Transnet’s performance.
He aims to halt the deterioration in operational and financial aspects and has outlined a radical plan to ensure efficiency.
The alleged ‘ghost train’ scandal within Transnet not only raises serious concerns about corruption within the company but also adds to its financial turmoil, calling for swift action and reforms to restore trust and stability.