Transnet Addressing Delays At Ports To Boost South African Economy

Transnet says it is actively addressing the backlogs at Durban Port and easing congestion at Richards Bay to mitigate impacts on South Africa’s economy. These delays, influenced by adverse weather and equipment shortages, have prompted swift action from Transnet’s leadership.

Transnet Board Chairperson, Andile Sangqu, highlights the complexity of port congestion, linking it to historical underinvestment. “We’re implementing measures to rectify this, but procurement of essential equipment, with lead times of 12 to 18 months, requires time,” he stated at a media briefing. Sangqu assured that efforts are underway to align port operations with global standards.

In Durban, an intervention team targets enhanced cargo handling at Pier 2, aiming to increase processing from 2,500 to 4,000 containers daily over three months. Pier 1 aims to boost its capacity from 1,200 to 1,500 containers. Transnet has planned equipment upgrades, including 16 rubber tyred gantry cranes for Pier 1 by mid-2025, and four ship-to-shore cranes for Pier 2 in FY2025/26. Additionally, maintenance and refurbishment of critical equipment are underway, set for completion by August 2024.

Transnet Acting Group Chief Executive, Michelle Phillips, notes the formation of a specialized internal task team. “This team’s analysis and rapid improvements in our systems are expected to clear the backlog at Pier 1 within seven weeks and at Pier 2 within 15 weeks.”

Long-term improvements at Durban Port include a new container management system and the acquisition of new equipment. Contracts for servicing various cranes and handling equipment are set for renewal by year-end, accompanied by refurbishment and replacement initiatives. Phillips also mentions ongoing discussions with shipping lines regarding the congestion fee surcharge for import containers.

For Richards Bay, Transnet and stakeholders will convene an emergency meeting to address road congestion. While a truck booking system has been implemented, it does not cover back-of-port facilities, necessitating both short and long-term solutions.

Transnet remains committed to stabilizing operations with these interventions, as part of a broader Recovery Plan aimed at transforming and sustainably improving rail and port operations.

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