Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) has joined forces with law enforcement agencies to address what it describes as “unprecedented levels” of overhead cable theft.
According to TFR spokesman Mike Asefovitz, 21 trains, on average, are cancelled per day due to cable theft. The length of the cables stolen in this financial year (April 2019 to January 2020) is 354 227 metres. He says the direct cost to the company (replacement cost for cable only) is more than R150 million per year.
“On average, 177 number of trains have been cancelled, equating to a direct volume loss of 1.3 million tons and resulting in revenue loss of roughly R400 million. The consequential loss due to the knock-on effect runs into many millions more,”
And the financial losses are only part of the picture. “It can also result in human disaster and tragedy, and the destruction of locomotives and wagons which costs the company millions of rands in repairs and replacement.
The implications of cable theft are enormous, he says.
“Each incident necessitates re-planning and re-allocation of resources that leads to delays in delivery of consignments.”
It’s a problem that is not unique to South Africa – but a global issue.
One of the measures introduced in the UK seven years ago - the Scrap Metal Dealer’s Act – forces scrap dealers to obtain a full licence, carefully record each sale of metal and refrain from making cash payments in exchange for scrap metal.