Transnet boss Portia Derby doubts a strong 2021 recovery

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Due to the ‘deep crash’ expected from Covid-19 globally this year.

With 2020 being an economic “disaster” due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Transnet group CEO Portia Derby is not convinced 2021 will see a strong recovery in the global and South African economy unless a vaccine is discovered and administered on a mass scale worldwide.

Addressing a South African Transport Conference webinar on Wednesday, she remarked: “I’m not sure where the optimism for 2021 comes from … You can’t have such a deep crash in 2020 and suddenly think that things will be fine in 2021.”

Derby took over the hot seat as Group CEO of the ports, rail and pipelines state-owned entity in February, just weeks before the Covid-19 pandemic hit South Africa in March. She has kept a relatively low public profile since then, but the virus-linked lockdown and economic fallout is likely to have taken up most of her time.

She did not go into detail about the impact of the pandemic on Transnet’s financials, but her comments on economic prospects clearly highlight her expectation that 2021 is going to be a tough year for it.

“I think normality [will] start to arise when we have a vaccine … And, not just having the vaccine, but that the vaccine is being distributed for most of the world and most of the population is vaccinated,” she said.

Pre-Covid challenges

Derby also noted that South Africa had been in an economic slump even before Covid-19 had hit.

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