TNPA, CSIR to address extreme wind disruption in Port of Cape Town 

Monday, August 7, 2023

Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) has signed a memorandum of agreement (MoA) with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to address extreme wind disruption to operate in the Port of Cape Town (PoCT). 

The TNPA and the CSIR-hosted programme, the Alliance for Collaboration on Climate and Earth Systems Science (ACCESS), and the other institutions intend to establish a series of research projects aimed at understanding the impact of extreme wind disruption on operations for the integrated maritime transport logistics chain at the PoCT. 

In the past few years, according to the joint statement, the PoCT lost an average of 1 200 hours per year of operational time due to extreme wind disruption.

“Extreme wind gusts can result in terminal equipment becoming unsafe to operate, thereby impacting terminal operations. 

“This sometimes leads to congestion inside and outside the port, resulting in vessels being at anchorage for extended periods. Several industries, including the time-sensitive fruit industry, are severely impacted by wind disruptions in the port,” the statement read. 

The parties said experts in various institutions who possess the skills required to address the problem are conducting the research. 

Meanwhile, the University of the Witwatersrand’s experts are studying the seasonal climate patterns that result in these extreme winds to establish whether there are trends and whether the wind is indeed intensifying with time. 

They are also looking into how wind patterns in the Cape Peninsula and the port are likely to change because of climate change. 

In addition, the University of KwaZulu-Natal and the University of Cape Town (UCT) researchers are examining the current and future economic impact of these disruptions on specific value chains to estimate the financial losses and assess the required investment into adaptation measures to deal with the problem. 

“The CSIR and UCT are focusing on feasible engineering and operational adaptations to address the challenge.”

TNPA Managing Executive for Western Region ports, Advocate Phyllis Difeto, said the institution appreciates the increasing risk of environmental challenges to port operations. 

“Unless these are carefully understood and managed, they can add a burden to the smooth management of the ports, which are vital to the functioning of the country’s economy. 

“Climate change presents a growing challenge to shipping and ports in that it impacts the state of both land and sea operations,” Difeto said. 

CSIR Senior Researcher and ACCESS Director, Dr Neville Sweijd, noted that extreme weather is the way in which climate change manifests. 

“The extreme wind problem in the PoCT is a classic example. It is not a new problem, but potentially a worsening one, and so it will increasingly have an impact on lives and livelihoods all around the Western Cape, especially for those people who are involved in the fruit export industry,” Sweijd added. 

He explained that the project seeks to produce solutions that can be used to adapt to and manage extreme wind impacts for the next two years. 

“We cannot turn the wind off, but we can learn to better work with it,” he said.

The MoA between TNPA and the research consortium will provide researchers with access to valuable data sources that are required for the study, while national ports authority will facilitate engagements with their key clients and stakeholders.

“Strategic partnerships are critical for a successful and integrated maritime transport logistics chain, and the TNPA continues to collaborate and partner with all stakeholders to optimise the value proposition of the port and the western region,” said Difeto. –