After three years at the helm, Portia Derby, the CEO of Transnet, has announced her resignation. Derby handed in her resignation letter to the Transnet board on Friday, stating her intention to step down at the end of October.
Derby’s resignation comes after facing mounting pressure from various industry bodies, including the Minerals Council South Africa and the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry. These organizations had called for the replacement of Derby and Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) CEO Sizakele Mzimela due to the company’s worsening operational performance.
The mining industry, represented by the Minerals Council South Africa, had expressed concerns about the impact of Transnet’s rail and port network constraints on their export potential. In 2022, exports through the Richards Bay Coal Terminal dropped to the lowest level in 30 years, reaching only 50 million tonnes. The council estimated that bulk mineral exporters lost R51 billion in revenue due to the challenges at TFR.
The council further emphasized that if Transnet’s operations were at nameplate capacity, the mining industry could generate an additional R151 billion in revenue. These figures highlight the significance of resolving the operational issues at Transnet to unlock the full potential of the mining industry.
In addition to the Minerals Council South Africa, the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry also voiced concerns about Transnet’s leadership and operations at the city’s port. Their call for the removal of Transnet’s leadership reflects the urgent need to address the challenges faced by the company.
Derby’s resignation marks a significant development in Transnet’s leadership and presents an opportunity for the board to bring in new management and address the operational issues that have plagued the company. It will be crucial for the board to find capable leaders who can navigate the complex challenges of the rail and port industry and restore Transnet’s position as a reliable and efficient parastatal.