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 with stakeholders to find solutions to road congestion at the Port of Richard’s Bay .

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