South Africa’s commercial ports handled 8 223 containers per day for the last week measured by the South African Association of Freight Forwarders (Saaff) and Business Unity South Africa (Busa), the organisations have said in their latest “Cargo Movement Update.”
The amount of overall containers handled is “slightly down from the 8 329” reported a week earlier, Saaff and Busa said in the update’s Executive Summary.
“Port operations in the last week were once again bedevilled by poor weather conditions as well as equipment breakdowns and shortages.
“Adverse weather returned to the Port of Cape Town this week as several operational hours were lost while the estimated time of arrival for the new shore tensioning units has been shifted to the second week of December.”
Looking at the Port of Durban where extreme congestion has vessels waiting at anchor for two or more weeks, Saaf-Busa says, “there were 63 vessels at anchor by the end of the week, while equipment challenges at Pier 2 persisted, as the terminal had only 55 straddle carriers in operation towards the end of the week.”
Speaking to Freight News on Monday, November 20, Saaff director Mike Walwyn said last week Friday, only 42% of the required equipment at Pier 2 was working.
For the biggest pier in the country’s port system, the port’s operational capacity had dipped woefully below what is required to keep pace with incoming container vessels, he said.
It has since come to light that if Transnet succeeds in improving cargo handling from 2 500 to 4000 containers a day, as it has said it would (*), it will still take the better part of four months to potentially clear the backlog.
In other words, delayed throughput at the port is likely to last until the end of the first quarter in 2024.
Walwyn said spare parts and new equipment needed to improve the country’s port handling capacity could take as long as a year before the required items arrive in South Africa.
However, Transnet Board chair Andile Sangqu said spare parts and equipment may only be available in 2025.
* Read our report published earlier today, November 21: “Operations ramped up to tackle Durban port backlogs.”