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.
Democratic Alliance (DA) leader John Steenhuisen on Monday conducted an aerial oversight visit to the Durban harbour via helicopter to assess the situation.
“The 60,000 containers aboard stranded vessels are now piling up due to the collapse of the Durban port at the hands of Transnet which has failed to maintain and upgrade port infrastructure for decades,” Steenhuisen said.
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.
It should be noted that 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.
According to News24, it is estimated R7 billion worth of products cannot be shipped in due to the delays at these ports.
WHAT IS CAUSING THE DELAYS?
The delays and subsequent congestion at these ports have been attributed to bad weather, equipment failures, and a failure to maintain and upgrade port infrastructure over many years.
Transnet Board chairperson, Andile Sangqu has previously said port congestion was bound to happen due to many years of underinvestment in equipment and maintenance.
“We are working on measures to turn the situation around. We caution that this is going to take some time, as the lead times for some equipment is anything from 12 to 18 months.”
While President Cyril Ramaphosa gave assurances that work was being done to deal with the container crisis at the Durban port, logistics companies on Monday said they had seen no improvements in recent days.
Ramaphosa, who was in Durban last Thursday, said the government has made the efficiency of the logistics system a core priority. The National Logistics Crisis Committee (NLCC) is co-ordinating the implementation of clear, time-bound actions to stabilise and improve the performance of South Africa’s rail system and ports, he said.
The private sector has provided support through the NLCC to improve systems and enhance efficiency across the value chain, secure rail infrastructure, and fill critical gaps in equipment, he concluded.