Shipping line DAL Agency earlier today announced that it will forseeably bypass the Port of Cape Town on its north- and southbound legs because of continued throughput delays.
DAL Agency managing director David McCallum confirmed the temporary decision saying: “We will not be calling at the port at all on our main service any more.
“Instead we will be running a feeder service between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.”
Contacted for comment after Freight News received complaints about ongoing delays at the port, McCallum said the port was a mess.
“There are eight to nine vessels waiting to be worked but the port simply doesn’t have the staff complement to get to all the vessels.”
A while ago Transnet confirmed that efficiencies at the port had been affected because of operational personnel staying at home, fearing infection in a province ravaged by the coronavirus.
“To exacerbate things,” said McCallum, “is the fact that we have no decent communications about what’s happening in Cape Town like we have in Durban.”
At the moment Durban, previously the country’s most problematic port where corruption and congestion had run rampant over the years, appears to be sorted – under the circumstances.
“We receive daily updates from Durban and things there and in ports like PE are running well. So I don’t understand why Cape Town should be any different,” McCallum said.
“The current situation is certainly not ideal and has forced us to rely on contingency measures. We’re in the middle of the reefer season but in the absence of communication we have been seeking information elsewhere. Why should we have to do that? We’re the customer. We shouldn’t have to pull information from the port. They should be pushing it to us.”
It’s not the first time that Transnet has been accused of “zero actual engagement” when it comes to the Port of Cape Town.
Earlier today Freight News was told by a freight forwarder whose name and affiliation is being withheld, that delays were wrecking outbound cargo.
When approached for comment, Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) wanted to know which terminals were at the centre of complaints from clients – the Cape Town Container Terminal (CTCT) or the Multi-Purpose Terminal (MPT).
The source, who initially phoned this morning about ongoing frustrations at the port, said: “It’s hardly the point. I can confirm that both terminals are experiencing issues impacting cargo.
“We make use of the MPT for general cargo, mostly going to the States, and that terminal has now been having problems for weeks.”
As for DAL and its decision to discontinue direct calling at Cape Town, McCallum said they used the CTCT.
With regard to delays at the port that have now been affecting throughput at Cape Town for all of June, Transnet recently told Freight News that working the vessel had taken priority over sorting the stack, and while this happened interchangeably – the equal balancing of both these critical elements had been hard to achieve consistently.
“The technical team is also prioritising planned maintenance of the mobile harbour crane.
“The MPT, which is currently challenged with consistent stacking, remains with a 120 000-TEU capacity while the Cape Town Container Terminal carries most of the province’s container volumes with a capacity of one million TEUs.
“TPT is continuously reviewing and aligning its ramp-up plans. Also engagements with customers are ongoing,” it added.
In an effort to obtain more clarity from Transnet about what the “ramp-up plans” and “engagements” were, especially since the general sentiment from industry is one of poor if not non-existent communication from the parastatal, the state-owned company was reluctant to divulge any detail.
We print their response unchanged:
“Please find attached herewith, a response to follow-up questions related to the Cape Town MPT stacking challenge.
TPT will always be willing to share information when granted the opportunity. Thank you for extending time to allow for this response. Kindly note the following:
- In principle, we do not engage with our customers through media.
- TPT cannot comprehensively share details of our ramp-up plans as they often contain privileged company/business information and sometimes confidential customer agreements information.
- Freight News articles prove that the medium is preview to TPT customer communication as the publication references and sometimes quotes verbatim despite independent media responses. If customers have any further communication suggestions, we encourage them to use normal customer communication channels with us, including direct contact with Key Accounts Managers.”
In a separate phone call Freight News had with Transnet shortly before posting this report, we were told that port authorities were doing all they could to sort out the backlog created when staff started staying at home and cargo began building up in Cape Town’s terminals.
“We are doing all we can to clear the backlog but we continue to have essential cargo coming in and it’s not easy,” the Transnet source said.