The Transnet Cape Town Container Terminal (CTCT) has recorded a 14% decline in deciduous fruit volumes compared to last season, noting that this has created industry concern as inclement weather with windspeeds in excess of 80km/h persist.
This as industry role-players say operational and logistic issues at the port continued to cost the economy millions of rand in lost revenue.
Transnet this week said that the CTCT had recruited 62 new employees and increased the number of haulers available to operations from 32 to 44 with the peaking of the deciduous season this month.
Transnet’s acting Western Cape managing executive, Oscar Borchards, said: “Weather is not our only problem but, it really sets us back as we have to close the terminal for extended periods.
“As such, out of the seven rubber-tyred gantry (RTG) cranes delivered in December, three have been handed to operations so far.”
Borchards said original equipment manufacturer Kone Cranes was onsite to support the technical team, with another three RTGs undergoing final testing before handover to operations.
Cape Chamber of Commerce & Industry president Jacques Moolman said the ongoing logistics “shambles” at the Port of Cape Town was a failure of governance that has once again cost the economy hundreds of millions of rand in lost revenue.
“The failure is particularly galling in light of efforts to set up a multi-stakeholder independent task team with the specific intent of avoiding the very situation we now find ourselves in,” said Moolman.
Cape Times’ shipping columnist and maritime author. expert Brian Ingpen said the port had a history of unavoidable weather-related delays, notably those caused by the strong south-easter during the peak fruit season.
“While the current terminal staff are trying to recoup time-losses, a missed opportunity about 17 years ago continues to affect operations. The original container wharf length could accommodate four of the largest containerships on the trade at the time (1977-2005), and one smaller vessel. When the terminal was upgraded, the opportunity was missed to extend the terminal by building an additional berth at the breakwater end of the existing wharves…
“Laudably, the port has developed container stacking and operational facilities at A and F berths, where container vessels can work cargo.
However, the installation of two proper container gantry cranes at each of those berths is a matter of urgency as they will accelerate cargo operations,” said Ingpen.
The chief executive of Agri Western Cape, Jannie Strydom, said the Port of Cape Town played a crucial role in facilitating the movement of goods, and at this stage, operational issues were hindering the overall productivity of the port.
“The consequences of a port not functioning to full capacity are far-reaching and will have a devastating impact on the agricultural sector and the economy of the province. Agri Western Cape welcomes any improvement that can increase the effectiveness of operations at the port.”