A partnership approach appears to have been catalyst in successfully addressing ongoing traffic pressure and congestion in the Port of Durban’s Bayhead Precinct and surrounding road networks.
A multidisciplinary Port of Durban Decongestion Task team was formed late last year comprising various private sector and government agencies with an interest in the port system. Its mandate was to integrate and decongest the port.
The ongoing challenges with heavy truck traffic congestion were attributed mainly to operational inefficiencies at the container terminal.
“In December 2019, Transnet recognised a need to change its model of engagement with its stakeholders where decongesting the Port of Durban is concerned,” Moshe Motlohi, general manager at the Port of Durban, said. “The Decongestion Task Team meets fortnightly and through nine targeted workstreams we have adopted an integrated approach to tackle the root causes of Bayhead traffic-related congestion in the precinct and to ensure improved coordination, planning, operations, cargo flows and capacity.”
He said the role players had already agreed to a number of initiatives aimed at improving the flow of containers into and out of the port so that delays were minimised, predictability optimised and the Port of Durban ultimately decongested.
“It has been encouraging to see improvements in key measures of efficiency including ship waiting time, ship turnaround time, reduced truck turnaround time and staging times, improved fluidity on Bayhead Road leading into the container terminals, and improved rail turnaround time. But we know we must not rest on our laurels and will continue collaborating with all role players to sustain these improvements,” he said.
The initiative has clearly gained traction among key stakeholders.
Chairperson of the Harbour Carriers’ division of Saaff, Sue Moodley, said the engagement sessions had been very interactive and informative. “We have also recognised that the feedback provided over the weeks is being noted, and this has created much improvement to the booking system and the quality of reports which are being provided to the trucking industry. There is still much more work that needs to be done by the larger logistics community, and these gaps have been identified and highlighted.”
CEO of the the South African Association of Ship Operators and Agents (Saasoa), Peter Besnard, agreed, saying they were beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel.
The task team comprises Transnet, the Department of Public Enterprises, KwaZulu-Natal provincial government, eThekwini municipality, Durban Metro Police, SAPS, organised business through the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Saasoa, South African Association of Freight Forwarders (Saaff), representatives of the shipping lines, trucking fraternity, depot operators and other industry associations and bodies.