As Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula hinted at recently, the Department of Transport has reviewed its Covid-19-related policies and eased restrictions on maritime sector activities, particularly around South Africa’s ports.
The measures announced by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa) earlier this week address crew changes at the country’s commercial ports, revised regulations on the management of cargo vessels, as well as the loading and off-loading of cargo, all of which faced tough measures before, some of which included an outright ban.
Port operations have been revised as follows:
- All South African ports remain open for port operations
- Cargo operations will continue in all ports
- Stevedore operations will continue in all ports
- All types of cargo will be allowed to be loaded and off-loaded (not just essential cargo).
The ports that will remain open for commercial operation include Cape Town, Saldanha, Mossel Bay, Port Elizabeth, Port of Ngqura, East London, Durban and Richards Bay.
While Government has now decided that, in the interests of ensuring a functional supply chain across all ports, all cargoes will be accepted for loading and off-loading, where possible essential goods should receive preferential treatment.
Transnet will be in touch with relevant customers and logistics partners to discuss which of its operations will be reactivated, although these will be at a reduced level and not full capacity..
Transnet’s priorities are:
- The integrated container logistics system, mainly around the Port of Durban and the link to the economic hub in Gauteng. This is to ensure that the complex system remains efficient to enable the movement of priority and essential containerised goods - and this includes the movement of non-essential cargo to City Deep, only for purposes of decongesting the Port of Durban;
- The heavy haul rail and ports export system from the Northern Cape to the Port of Saldanha;
- Domestic and export coal and other GFB cargo through the Port of Richards Bay.
Government will assess the approval of any other services on a case-by-case basis, according to Samsa.
In terms of vessel operations, a strict set of safety rules and standards has been introduced for all crew.
The Department of Transport has established a Maritime National Joint Operations Committee (MNJOC) that will focus on Covid-19-related issues.