The National Freight Logistics Strategy report, released last year and adopted by the government, says the entire freight transport system, from the harbours to rail operations, is hampered by a lack of infrastructure, an absence of integrated planning, big information gaps and a serious lack of skills.
It states that South Africa's development depends primarily on the ability to move goods and to deliver services to their destinations "without failure and fear for their safety".
It says the government must take a more interventionist approach to regulating the freight system instead of passing the cost of inefficiencies on to the cargo owner.
Two weeks ago Public Enterprises Minister Alec Erwin said in the past 12 years there had been a 12 percent decrease in electric locomotives, an 11 percent decrease in diesel locomotives and a 37 percent decrease in the fleet of rail coaches.
The distance of rail track in this time had remained static at 22 000km.