The cyberattack on Transnet, the latest supply chain disruption, had brought the ports to a halt and resulted in a virtual standstill for 12 days. File photo.
The cyberattack on Transnet, the latest supply chain disruption, had brought the ports to a halt and resulted in a virtual standstill for 12 days. File photo.

Supply chain gridlock unwinding slowly

By Edward West Time of article published Aug 3, 2021

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THERE remain blockages in South Africa’s supply chain system following the cyberattack on Transnet and civil unrest that were delaying cargoes and adding to the costs of moving freight, SA Association of Freight Forwarders (SAAFF) Western Cape director Mike Walwyn said yesterday.

Walwyn said, for instance, he knew of 12 ships that had simply bypassed their South African destination ports last week due to the delays, and in these instances, the cargoes would either be offloaded at another local port, or they would be offloaded at a port in another country, where another vessel destined for South Africa would on-load it a later stage. Both scenarios resulted in delays and additional cost.

Export pack-houses were full to capacity due to the delays and refrigerated containers needed to be plugged in at extra cost to preserve the produce, or the crops were being picked later than they should. Imported meat pack-houses in Durban were looted and damaged, and the meat was having to be offloaded by vessels in other local ports, also resulting in delays and additional cost.

“There are a myriad of other examples I could name. But the system is recovering slowly. Transnet’s main operating systems are up and running, although some of its other systems are not yet up, he said.

SAAFF chairperson Dr Juanita Maree said the massive disruptions to supply chains in recent weeks had led to loss of trust, reputational damage, falling investor confidence, companies choosing to avoid using the ports, loss of jobs and slow economic growth.

The cyberattack on Transnet, the latest supply chain disruption, had brought the ports to a halt and resulted in a virtual standstill for 12 days.

She said the association had played an active role, with stakeholders, in tackling the challenges to restore some normality to the supply chain.

A Supply Chain Security Working Group, co-chaired by SAAFF and the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic) and comprising stakeholders from both the private and public sectors, had been set up to identify solutions.

The working group meets daily to track and monitor progress. The SAAFF was also driving the development of a masterplan to ensure contingency plans were put in place where there were none, which would be developed into a strategic, longer-term logistics master plan.

Among some other initiatives the SAAFF had taken was to lobby, with other industry associations, for more police and SA National Defence Force presence at critical hot spots on key transport corridors.

Maree said a key lesson learnt was the businesses, government departments and state-owned entities needed to have contingency plans in place to allow an organisation to return to its daily operations as quickly as possible after an unforeseen event.

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BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE

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