The disruptions forced the company to declare “force majeure” to release it from fulfilling all its obligations. Photographer: Armand Hough, ANA.
The disruptions forced the company to declare “force majeure” to release it from fulfilling all its obligations. Photographer: Armand Hough, ANA.

Transnet expects to be fully on stream by Friday “at the latest” after cyber attack

By Edward West Time of article published Jul 29, 2021

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TRANSNET should be fully on stream by Friday “at the latest”, Port Terminals chief executive Pepi Selinga said at a Cape Town stakeholder engagement webinar yesterday.

South Africa’s state-owned ports and freight-rail company declared force majeure at the country’s key container terminals on Monday after disruptions caused by a cyber attack five days prior to that.

The measure covers the Durban, Ngqura, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town harbours - force majeure is an unanticipated or uncontrollable event that releases a company from fulfilling contractual obligations.

During yesterday’s webinar, stakeholders at the Port of Cape Town raised concerns about the Transnet IT disruptions, which had resulted in the implementation of temporary manual processes, and reduced performance at ports across South Africa.

Citrus Growers Association of Southern Africa chief executive Justin Chadwick, said the Transnet’s manual systems had slowed operations, but citrus shipped via break bulk vessels had not been impacted due to this fruit being serviced by private terminals in domestic ports.

He said there was currently a backlog of fruit across the citrus supply chain causing temporary delays to fruit being exported to key markets, and in some instances, growers were diverting fruit to the port at Maputo, Mozambique. Disruptions were expected to be short-lived, said Chadwick.

Silinga expressed regret for delays and said measures were being implemented to stabilise the system, and that they had “identified the source of the issue and taken significant lessons from that particular process.”

Western Cape Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities David Maynier, said in a statement that they had been informed that since Transnet reverted to a manual process, four vessels were completed and more than 2 200 containers were processed at the Port of Cape Town.”

Also during the webinar, further updates were made on the findings of two research reports, commissioned by the Department of Economic Development and Tourism to investigate causes of congestion at the Cape Town Container Terminal.

A new truck booking system was being rolled out at the Port of Durban and was scheduled to go live at the Port of Cape Town by the end of August.

The truck booking system had already shown positive improvements at the Durban port, with truck turnaround times reduced from 313 minutes to 99 minutes, without additional equipment, a statement from Transnet said.

The delivery of a Truck Staging Area in Cape Town port was being moved forward from the end of 2026 to the end of 2023. The development was expected to ease congestion if implemented in conjunction with the truck booking system.

Transnet plans to increase the number of rubber-tyred gantries to 26 from 21 by November at the port, just in time for the next table grape season.

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