South Africa: MEC David Maynier On Operational Issues At Port of Cape Town

press release

Urgent intervention needed by Minister Pravin Gordhan to address operational issues at Port of Cape Town

The efficient and effective performance of the Port of Cape Town is critical to economic recovery and growth for the Western Cape.

We are very concerned about the operational issues currently being experienced at the Port of Cape Town. With the announcement that three shipping lines are cancelling calls to Cape Town or implementing a Cape Town congestion surcharge from July, and that large volumes of citrus exports are being redirected to Eastern Cape ports to ensure to continuity in supply to markets, it is clear that urgency and resources are needed if we are to resolve the current operational issues at the Port of Cape Town.

The challenges at the Port of Cape Town are well-documented, but with the further impact of Covid-19 infections, service levels have further deteriorated since the beginning of April - two weeks ago the service level was only 42% of the average for last year in terms of containers moved.

In the last month or so, vessels have been waiting outside the port for two weeks before they could berth, some export orders from three months ago have not been shipped yet, several importers have been waiting for more than a month after the delivery date to receive their containers, and transporters are often able to deliver or collect only one container per day, which is not financially sustainable.

We are working hard to assist where we can, and address these challenges at the highest level. We have forged strong partnerships with Ms. Michelle Phillips, the Acting CEO of Transnet Port Terminals, and her Cape Town management team. The Western Cape Department of Health has also supported interventions to implement health and safety measures in the workplace to stop the spread of Covid-19. Some service level improvements have started to come through since last week and are beginning to gather momentum.

We urgently need national government to address the operational inefficiencies which are leading to significant delays, further increasing the number of teams operating to get all cranes working in the port, and to address the structural challenges, providing a sufficient equipment fleet over the short to medium-term to get the service level required to meet importer exporter needs.

We cannot go on like this, and so I have written to the Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, requesting a meeting with himself and the Transnet management team to discuss interventions to address the challenges in the Port of Cape Town.

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