The congestion crisis at a number of South African ports have left many retailers stranded and they wait to berth their vessels and offload billions of rands worth of goods.
Pepkor on Wednesday said they had an estimated R700 million worth of goods that they could not import and that was essentially stuck on the sea.
Pepkor CEO Pieter Erasmus told Reuters that while the retailer had been trying to keep the production of goods in SA, certain items like fabrics still needed to be imported from foreign countries.
Erasmus said that he was worried about Pepkor’s ability to have enough stock for the 2024 school rush.
He said that the raw materials for certain products where brought to the South African shores months ago, but have not yet been disbursed.
"We've got significant value items stuck on the sea at the moment, between one and two weeks late. We don't think the impact will be that big on our Christmas trade, bearing in mind we're a more basics business, with a higher component of replenishment," he said.
Erasmus informed investors that, the company would have to change their plans and planning processes.
“We don't know how long this will take to sort out. The feedback we're getting is eight to 12 weeks but there is no certainty," he said.
MORE 10,000 CONTAINERS ARE STRANDED
The South African Association of Freight Forwarders (SAAFF) said this week that a number of container ships are avoiding Cape Town harbour, and are instead berthing in Gqeberha and the Ngqura Port.
SAAFF noted that this has led to a major influx of ships that has created huge congestion in the Eastern Cape coast, with around 46,000 containers being stuck outside these two ports.
The association also noted that 79 vessels and 61,968 containers are also stuck outside Durban’s port since last Friday.
SAAFF said that ships have been waiting more than a week to enter Port Nqura and over nine days to enter Durban’s port. The port in Gqeberha has only made the vessels wait 32 hours.
There is some good news as Cape Town’s port backlog has been cleared, according to Transnet.
Cape Town Container Terminal (CTCT) said that it cleared most of its backlog, berthing vessels on arrival, with only one vessel at anchor.
In a statement yesterday, the CTCT said it had increased equipment availability to optimise operations and improve efficiencies.