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.
The Durban port reportedly has 70,000 stuck goods containers and there is a 21-day waiting period before offloading can take place. Around 57 ships, some heavily laden with festive season goods for the retail industry, are anchored in the outer holding zone awaiting permission to enter the port and offload their cargo.
According to Transnet, the backlog at the port is caused by various factors including inclement weather conditions and lack of equipment.
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”.
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.