South Africa: Transnet's Financial Crunch Intensifies After Losing Millions in Revenue Due to Durban Port Inefficiencies

Container ships in Cape Town harbour (file photo).

Delays and congestion at the biggest port on South Africa's east coast worsened from October this year, with Transnet blaming adverse weather conditions that contributed to its ageing port facilities deteriorating even further.

Transnet estimates that backlogs and delays in moving shipping containers through its key port in Durban have so far cost it at least R160-million in lost revenue, worsening the already dire financial situation of the state-owned transport group.

At a briefing on Monday, Transnet provided an initial estimate of lost revenue as a result of the critical situation at the Durban port, which is vital for South Africa's economy as it handles about 60% of the country's container volumes/traffic. The port facilitates the import and export of vehicles, agricultural goods, minerals and general goods.

Delays and congestion at the port worsened from October, with Transnet blaming adverse weather conditions in Durban for causing its aging port infrastructure (various grades of cranes) to break down even further. Some of these facilities have reached the end of their 15-year life cycle.

Earle Peters, the managing executive of Transnet Port Terminals (the division at Transnet that operates other ports in Richards Bay, Cape Town, Saldanha Bay, Gqeberha, East London and Mossel Bay), stressed that the situation at the port remains fluid and changes daily.

The revenue loss in Durban threatens the financial stability of Transnet's port operations, which remain profitable (generating a profit...

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