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Transnet cyber attack cripples movement of goods through port terminals

Picture: Leon Lestrade African News Agency (ANA)

Picture: Leon Lestrade African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jul 23, 2021


The cyber attack that hit Transnet this week had a devastating impact on the movement of goods through terminals.

Transnet confirmed yesterday it had suffered disruption to its IT network.

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Spokesperson Ayanda Shezi said port terminals were operational across the system, with the exception of container terminals, as the Navis system on the trucking side has been affected.

"In the Eastern Cape, terminal operations have been halted due to inclement weather conditions, and will continue manually once it is safe to do so," Shezi said.

Road Freight Association CEO Gavin Kelly expressed dismay and concern at the attack.

He said it created massive delays and created unreliability of the movement of goods across all modes of transport – with road freight bearing the brunt of the impact.

Kelly said the gates to ports were closed which meant no trucks were moving in either direction.

"This has an immediate effect as the queues will get a lot longer, deliveries will be delayed and congestion will increase. The manual processes being used are also creating problems in terms of operations.

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’’Road freight operators already have a huge backlog resulting from last week’s civil unrest," he said.

Kelly said the delays at the port will further exacerbate the problem.

"Deliveries will become unreliable and unpredictable – adding further inefficiencies into the supply chain," he said.

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Kelly said the system needs to be adapted to ensure this sort of thing cannot happen in future.

"In the meantime, an alternative system – even if manual – needs to be put in place to ensure freight keeps moving into and out of the ports."

He said the implications for South Africa, both in the short- and long term, were serious.

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"The past five years have seen our ports deteriorating further. In a World Bank report issued earlier this year, the Port of Durban was listed as one of the three worst ports in the world – out of 351 ports that were assessed.

’’The effects of the cyber-attack are going to result in further reputational damage to South Africa. This further threatens our country’s status as the ‘Gateway to Africa’ for the import and export of goods," he said.

Kelly said if this matter was not addressed urgently, the non-functioning of the ports will be yet another reason why international traders and shippers will choose other ports in Africa through which to move goods.


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