Durban -

A gas leak and labour disputes at the Durban Container Terminal have been blamed for congestion and a backlog of trucks in Bayhead which has clogged roads in the area.

Logistic and transport operators have expressed frustration at the week-long delays truckers faced.

Transet said the leak stopped operations at the container terminals.

Congestion had eased on Monday, with most trucking companies parking their trucks at their depots.

A transport operator, who did not want to be named for fear of victimisation, said transporters had received several different messages from the terminal about the delays.

“They handle the operations with minimum staff that seem to be on a go-slow.

“There is also a labour dispute and a visit from the trade union. We cannot get clear answers as to what caused the week-long delay,” an operator said.

On Monday last week transporters were told container terminal pier 2 was on standby and they should recall all trucks on Bayhead Road.

They also received a message on Wednesday that waterside operations were on standby at pier 2 because of a gas smell.

The problem caused a severe traffic backlog in Bayhead and South Coast roads.

“The loss of business and having to calm down irate clients is troublesome. They suspended the newly formulated container appointment system because of the backlog,” a logistics operator said.

“Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday are the busiest days because many trucks load containers destined for Johannesburg.

“This is resulting in a loss of business and customer frustration.” Transnet spokeswoman, Brenda Magqwaka, said there had been disruptions at pier 2 last Monday because of a labour dispute.

“The gas leak on Tuesday exacerbated the problem, as it affected continuous operation. There was a gas leak which resulted in the terminal stopping operations. Some employees inhaled the fumes and experienced breathing problems.

“Those who were affected were rushed to the terminal onsite clinic, however there were no critical cases. This affected the servicing of trucks which led to congestion and the current backlog,” she said.

Another logistics operator said one of his trucks waited at the terminal from last Tuesday morning until the container was offloaded on Friday.

His fleet of 10 trucks was affected and he said the R600 profit he usually made per load had turned into a loss because drivers were drawing a salary of more than R2 000.

Logistics operators are calling for more transparency from Transnet.

Magqwaka said the container appointment system, to speed up processing at the terminal, had not been scrapped.

“We have gone into the second phase of the system. Instead the system has been enhanced with the view to improve efficiencies,” she said.