Transnet is ramping up efforts to clear the congestion in Durban and Richards Bay following delays in the delivery of goods on the two ports.
Thousands of containers are also stuck at sea but Transnet said it was clearing the backlog at its ports.
This comes after Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana announced a bailout of R47 billion to help Transnet to meet its debt obligations and focus on its recovery plan.
The freight logistics company said it was implementing measures that would enable it to clear the backlog in Richards Bay.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has said he wants the backlog to be cleared by early next year.
He promised to follow up with management by getting regular reports on the performance of Richards Bay and Durban.
Transnet said some of the measures they were taking to improve the performance of Richards Bay was to increase the number of trains, reduce incidents of cable theft, and restore the rail network that has been damaged through acts of vandalism.
It said the North Corridor, which is the Richards Bay line, handles most of the Transnet Freight Rail volumes.
“The North Corridor handles roughly 41% of total Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) volumes, generates 38% of TFR revenue and supports critical markets that contribute approximately 3% of South Africa’s GDP. The Corridor, which runs from Lephalale to the port of Richards Bay, and rails commodities such as export coal and chrome, has experienced significant challenges in recent years which have hampered its performance. These include locomotive availability and reliability, and the high levels of cable theft and infrastructure vandalism.
“In the immediate, TFR is ramping up the coal service to the port by seven trains per week by mid-December 2023, bringing the total number of trains to 28 per week. This equates to volume of about 15,400 tons per week, and an annualised tempo of 739, 200 tons per annum, which is equivalent to 452 road truck trips per week, and 21,747 road truck trips per annum. The first four locomotives will be deployed over the next few days. Between December 2023 and March 2024, TFR will bring in an additional seven trains, resulting in 35 trains per week to the port. This will support efforts underway to decongest the port,” said Transnet.
Transnet Port Terminals said a recovery plan was in place to clear the backlogs at its terminals.
This would lead to vessels to quickly offload goods in Durban than wait for days at sea.
It said this week there were 18 vessels at anchorage in Durban and the average waiting time was 433 hours.