South Africa

Cable theft costs South Africa R46 billion a year

South Africa’s trade minister proposed new regulations to prohibit the export of used rail tracks and increase restrictions on copper-product shipments as the government tries to combat theft and vandalism of public infrastructure.

Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel proposed banning the export of the rail tracks until Dec. 15 and limiting the sources of copper that can be used to produce semi-finished products for export, so the source of the metal can be more easily verified when issuing permits.

Exporters are shipping ferrous scrap rail tracks that may have been stolen, using a loophole in measures that currently prohibit scrap-metal exports, Patel said in a request for comment published in the Government Gazette on Wednesday.

The theft and export of copper cables and other infrastructure have been a major contributor to power cuts and disruptions on rail lines that hamper transportation by companies such as Kumba Iron Ore and Exxaro Resources.

Genesis Analytics has estimated that copper theft costs the South African economy more than R46 billion annually, according to the notice.


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