Transnet 'fully focused' on addressing backlogs at Durban port

Transnet 'fully focused' on addressing backlogs at Durban port

State-owned enterprise Transnet on Monday said it remained focused on addressing the backlogs at the Port of Durban, which in turn would ease the congestion at the harbour in Richards Bay.


Thousands of containers have been stuck at the country's ports ahead of the festive season.

Transnet said the delays are due to various factors, including adverse weather conditions and equipment availability.

Board chairperson Andile Sangqu blamed the port congestion on many years of underinvestment in equipment and its maintenance.

He said that the enterprise is working on a number of measures to turn the situation around.

"We need to caution that this is going to take some time as the lead times for some of the equipment is anything from 12 to 18 months.

"The team is working around the clock to procure this important equipment to ensure our port facilities are in line with global best practices."

He said Transnet has prioritised the optimisation of port operations through improved planning and forecasting, leading to better anticipation of cargo volumes.

"In Durban, an urgent intervention team has already put plans in place to address slow turnaround times affecting the docking and offloading of containers at the port. At Pier 2, the plan is to ramp up the tempo from 2,500 to 4,000 containers a day over the next three months.

"Under normal conditions, the container handling tempo at Pier 2 is 3 300 containers a day. However, over the past four weeks, this has reduced to 2,500 due to inclement weather and equipment challenges. At Pier 1, the tempo will increase from 1 200 to 1 500 containers a day."

Sangqu said the refurbishment and maintenance work of critical port equipment at Pier 1 and Pier 2 will be completed by August 2024.

"While additional cranes and equipment are being sourced to make the port function more effectively, Transnet employees have been urged to put in extra efforts so that the backlog is broken."

Transnet Acting Group Chief Executive, Michelle Phillips, said there is a plan to ensure significant and sustainable improvements at both rail and ports.

"At Durban Port, these longer-term improvements include a new container management system to improve efficiencies and the acquisition of new equipment.

"New contracts will be in place by the end of the year for the service of ship-to-shore cranes, rubber-tyred gantry cranes, straddle carriers, reach stackers and empty container handlers, and existing equipment is being refurbished or replaced.

"Transnet Port Terminals has implemented a truck booking system as a mechanism to create orders; however, the solution does not include trucks destined for back-of-port facilities.

"As a result, even when trucks have been booked, the tempo at which the trucks arrive at port gates sometimes far exceeds the pace at which trucks can be processed at the permit offices, as well as at the terminal," added Phillips.


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