Urgent interventions implemented to address port delays

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Transnet says it is implementing a number of urgent interventions to address the backlogs at the Port of Durban and to ease the congestion at Richards Bay.

According to Transnet, the backlog at the port is being caused by factors including inclement weather conditions and equipment availability.

Transnet Board Chairperson, Andile Sangqu, said: “The problem of port congestion is a complex one and it is something that was due to happen at some point, as a result of many years of underinvestment in equipment and its maintenance.

“We are working on a number of measures to turn the situation around. We need to caution that this is going to take some time as the lead times for some of the equipment is anything from 12 to 18 months. The team is working around the clock to procure this important equipment, to ensure our port facilities are in line with global best practice”.

Transnet explained the urgent interventions that are currently in place to address “slow turnaround times affecting the docking and offloading of containers at the port”.

“At Pier 2, the plan is to ramp up the tempo from 2 500 – 4 000 containers a day over the next three months. Under normal conditions, the container handling tempo at Pier 2 is 3 300 containers a day. However, over the past four weeks, this has reduced to 2 500 due to inclement weather and equipment challenges. At Pier 1, the tempo will increase from 1 200 to 1 500 containers a day.

“Initiatives on the cards to ensure that the recovery plan to clear the backlog succeeds include the acquisition of 16 rubber tyred gantry cranes for Pier 1 by the second half of 2025 and acquisition of four ship-to-shore cranes for South Quay for Pier 2in FY2025/26. Work is also underway to refurbish and maintain critical port equipment to improve asset utilisation at Pier 1 and Pier 2 and this will be completed by August 2024,” Transnet said.

The company’s acting CEO Michelle Phillips said management at the port terminals are “working around the clock with industrial engineers from the task team to maximise berth performance”.

“With all these initiatives in place, we expect it will take a maximum of seven weeks to clear the backlog at Pier 1 and 15 weeks for Pier 2. This will make a significant difference to the flow of container traffic through the port.

“It is crucial that we stabilise our operations through these short-term interventions while we continue with the broad Recovery Plan to improve Transnet operations. The plan is exactly what is says it is: a plan to turnaround the business and ensure significant and sustainable improvements in all our operations, and in particular in rail and ports,” she said.

An emergency meeting will be held with stakeholders to find solutions to road congestion at the Port of Richard’s Bay.  – SAnews.gov.za