Trade and transport costs : the role of dry ports in South Africa
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The movement of passengers, goods, and information has always been fundamental components of human societies. It is all related to transport costs as well as to the attributes of what is being transported. However, regulations, laws, and tariffs can influence transportability. Countries around the world have been changing their international trade policies by reducing both tariff and non-tariff barriers. Informal barriers hinder trade and the benefits of export, such as economic growth, that come with the achievement of trade liberalisation. It was found that the impact of transport costs on trade patterns has become an important study. Theoretical and empirical work in international trade only recently began considering the geography of exports as a possible explanation for high transport costs. For instance, factors such as distance, market size, scale economies, and agglomeration affect transportation costs around the world. Transport costs in South Africa are a relevant issue due to its geographical position. South Africa is situated far from its major trading partners. In addition, the majority of South African exports originate in Gauteng, which is around 600km from the nearest seaport. For South African exports to remain competitive, domestic transport costs must be reduced. One method of cutting costs is by connecting a container dry port with an intermodal transport system to the major seaports (namely Durban, Port Elizabeth, and Cape Town). The empirical study was conducted in the form an interview-based questionnaire. A total of 18 questions were asked to individuals at a terminal in Gauteng. The purpose of the questionnaire was to gather information on the service delivery of South African inland terminals. This led to the conclusion that City Deep functions well in terms of service delivery and provides extra services to both exporters and importers. Potential problems regarding City Deep's infrastructure were identified. It was found that train and truck congestion within City Deep is an everyday phenomenon. The existing infrastructure cannot handle the train and truck traffic entering City Deep. It was found that clients prefer road transportation to rail transportation, therefore, the amount of trucks entering and leaving City Deep causes congestion. This not only affects the infrastructure at City Deep, but also that of South Africa. More trucks on the roads exacerbate air pollution and road accidents, and overloaded trucks damage South African roads.