The Durban Container Terminal Pier 2 had reduced its vessel backlog at anchor to a total of five, Transnet Port Terminals (TPT), a division of Transnet, said in a statement yesterday- positive news after a severe backlog leading up to the festive season lost South Africa billions of rands in revenue and led ships to be routed to other international ports.
This was despite weather conditions, with wind gusts of up to 100 kilometres per hour and extreme swells, which had interrupted container operations across the Durban, Cape Town, Ngqura and Port Lizabeth container terminals over the past two weeks.
Mbali Mathenjwa, an executive manager: corporate affairs at TNT, said, “Since the beginning of December, employees have been scheduled to work through long weekends with one hundred percent attendance to date and through the New Year across all the terminals. The full employee resourcing at the terminal and demonstrated employee commitment was a direct and major contributor to the current outcome.”
There were original equipment manufacturers on site at each terminal supporting the teams around the clock following recent confinement agreements that had reduced waiting times for critical spares of handling equipment across Transnet Port Terminals.
However, in the Western Cape, the Cape Town Multipurpose Terminal had experienced equipment challenges, but had since resumed operations after additional spares for spreaders of the mobile harbour cranes were procured.
“The region is currently in deciduous fruit season, with both terminals exporting scores of fruits to global markets. To date, a total of eleven drivers of articulated vehicles, four diesel mechanics and ten millwrights have been appointed. Damaged plug points have been restored and the terminal will take receipt of a generator that will power up an additional 120 plugs already installed, bringing the total to 452 plugs,” it said.
The seven rubber-tyred gantry cranes that the Cape Town Container Terminal recently took receipt of, were in the process of being commissioned and employees are undergoing training. The holidays haddelayed the commissioning process with service providers observing Christmas Day and New Year, due to return in South Africa next week.
All the terminal’s nine ship to shore cranes were currently operational with seven gangs and seven cranes operational at any given time.
Mathenjwa said, “In the Eastern Cape, the Ngqura Container Terminal has lost 68 hours to strong winds over the last two weeks, resulting in six vessels outside at anchor. However, the team has contingency plans in place for when operations fully resume. The Port Elizabeth Container Terminal also has one vessel at anchor, owing to strong winds.”
The terminals had used a combination of equipment, human resources as well as planning to improve efficiencies and drive the recovery plan underway.
Earlier this month state-owned logistics firm Transnet reported a R1.6 billion loss in the six months to September 30 on the back of declining rail, port and pipeline volumes amid higher costs.
On December 1 the South African government, Transnet's sole shareholder, said it would inject R47bn to help the firm meet its immediate debt obligations, Reuters reported.
Transnet has debts of R130bn and has seen freight volumes decline to 150 million metric tons in financial year 2022/23 from 226 million tons in 2017/18, while reporting port backlogs of as much as three months.