“As Transnet, our primary concern continues to be the health and safety of our employees and the local communities in which we live and work,” the company says. “The services we render are also essential to the efficient functioning of our economy, more so in this time.

“After consultation with various stakeholders, Transnet has comprehensively assessed its environment and the impact of its services to South Africa at large, during this regrettable Covid-19 era.”

High-value trains and trains carrying perishable and sensitive goods including fuel, containers, timber, chemical products, agricultural products, and coal for hospitals and power generation will continue to operate.

The City Deep inland container terminal will remain open during the day, seven days a week, while other inland terminals including Kascon, Pretcon and Belcon will only be open Monday to Friday. The inland terminals at Vaalcon, Bayhead, Catcon, Lohatla, Bloemcon, Deal Party, Kaalfontein and Isipingo will be closed.

Transnet says it will continue to transport coal as long as there is demand and availability. The Ogies - Richards Bay - Centracor coal line will continue to carry lime and limestone for water purification and power generation, and will also transport soda ash and salt.

The flow of freight to and from Botswana, Zimbabwe, Maputo in Mozambique, Namibia, Lesotho and Eswatini will be facilitated along a number of lines to ensure movement of essential goods to neighbouring countries.

The transport of non-essential services through the rail network including the operation of the Blue Train luxury passenger service have been suspended with immediate effect.

Lockdown properties

As part of its efforts to contain and minimise the spread of Covid-19, Transnet has made properties across three provinces available as quarantine sites and shelters for the homeless during the lockdown.

In Gauteng, Transnet has made the Esselen Park School of Rail Campus and Parkhill Lodge properties and facilities available until April 16.

In KwaZulu-Natal, No 60 Mayors Road in Pietermaritzburg will also be used to provide shelter for the homeless until April 17. A student lodge in Bloemfontein, in Free State province, is also being used to accommodate homeless people for the duration until April 17.

These facilities will have total capacity for more than 600 people.