Nungu Freight

Urgent intervention necessary at South Africa’s ports

Although it’s commendable that the government of Cyril Ramaphosa is looking at long-term supply chain alleviation strategies through its National Logistics Crisis Committee (NLCC), it has become clear that immediate intervention is now necessary.

Commenting on yet another line implementing surcharges because of waiting time at the Port of Durban, 4PL Group’s Kevin Delport has said: “We are indeed in a logistics crisis, which must be addressed as soon as possible.

“Not only are we shipping the same containerised volumes as during 2009, but we are 25% less productive than that time, which is also deeply concerning.”

Speaking after Hapag-Lloyd became the latest carrier to institute penalty fees for delays experienced along the South African coastline after Maersk, MSC and CMA CGM led the way with surcharges, the key accounts executive has added his voice to mounting complaints of equipment failure, unproductive booking systems and low productivity.

Mike Walwyn, a director at the South African Institute of Freight Forwarders, has said the same on various occasions, that the country’s ports have lost the resilience and resourcefulness for which it used to be known.

This morning Freight News correspondent in Durban, Lyse Comins, said the line of vessels at outer anchorage stretches all the way to Umhlanga, almost 20 kilometres away along the North Coast.

When Hapag-Lloyd announced that it would implement surcharges of $200 and $400 for TEUs and FEUs, Delport commented that about 70 vessels were stuck outside the port because of a waiting period of 18 to 20 days.

Once berthed, it takes a further six to eight days for loads to be discharged.

“However, this could increase due to delays in truck booking systems that could add another two-day delay,” Delport said.
Up the coast to the west, matters aren’t much better, with a waiting time of up to ten days before vessels berth at Coega’s Port of Ngqura.

Here, too, there are further delays because of inefficient container booking systems, Delport said.

Turning to Cape Town, he said the port is experiencing high congestion.

“Thirteen vessels are currently anchored with delays ranging between 12 to 14 days.
“High wind, bad weather and equipment failure have also led to delays and possible omissions.”

An industry thought leader, speaking to Freight News on condition of anonymity, said: “The ports are squeezing the life out of traders in South Africa.

“Delays are mounting and small- to medium-size shippers are backed into corners by costs they incur because of Transnet’s ineptitude.

“By the time the NLCC has finally figured things out and the Freight Logistics Roadmap is implemented, businesses would’ve closed down, and employees laid off.”

Transnet Port Terminals has apparently said it’s aware of berthing delays and that it’s trying to find “amicable solutions” along with private sector stakeholders.

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