TRANSNET confirmed yesterday its Richards Bay and Durban ports were fully operational after a major fire at the former and bad weather at the latter last week saw the utility declare force majeure over the weekend.
The major logistics state owned enterprise said a second fire at Port Richards Bay which broke out on Wednesday and reignited on Friday had affected one of the import conveyor belt routes.
“Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) would like to reassure all stakeholders that the ports of Durban and Richards Bay are open. TNPA is aware of reports on social media that these ports are closed and confirms that this is fake news,” said Ayanda Mantshongo executive manager: corporate affairs and external relations at TNPA.
Mantshongo said shipping was suspended at the Port of Richards Bay late on Saturday due to bad weather which affected two vessels, one at the Richards Bay Coal Terminal, and the other at Transnet Port Terminals (TPT).
TNPA said it had implemented business continuity plans and engagements were taking place with affected customers.
It has also issued instructions to the affected terminal operator to suspend all conveyor belt operations until it provided risk mitigation plans and evacuated all port users within the affected area.
Transnet said the fire was contained within five hours after the terminal isolated the electrical power to the routes to ensure firefighters were able to extinguish the fire speedily.
“There were no injuries to any of the employees, service providers or customers on site although emergency services were called to the scene as a standard precautionary measure. The cause of the fire is still unknown and a preliminary investigation is currently underway. Expert assessors and investigators are on site establishing the extent of the damage,” it said.
The latest woes add to Transent’s rocky road this year, which threatens its status as the Gateway to Africa.
In a May 2021 port index released by the World Bank, Durban was at the bottom of the 351 ports ranked on issues related to efficiency, operations and infrastructure.
In July the ports operator suffered a massive cyber attack which crippled its operations.
Earlier this year President Cyril Ramaphosa outlined plans to restore Durban’s position as Africa’s largest container port.