South Africa: Crisis in South Africa As 60,000 Containers Stuck at Sea

Durban Harbour, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa (file photo).
29 November 2023

Harare — Numerous vessels are awaiting clearance from the port of Durban, which handles more than 60% of the country's container cargo, according to the South African Association of Freight Forwarders (SAAFF), IOL reports.

There is a delay caused by equipment problems and severe weather which has left over 60,000 containers at sea waiting to be offloaded at South Africa's main port. This is having a detrimental effect on the already fragile economy of the nation, according to business and political organizations. On Monday, November 27, traffic jams at the state-owned Transnet port sparked a political spat, with the major opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), calling for Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan to be sacked.

Being a major exporter of mineral and agricultural products, Durban's ports are commonly considered points of entry into southern Africa. Transnet claims that the city is seeing delays because adverse weather, aging equipment, and other issues are exacerbating failures. However, the DA and industry organizations claim that the issue has been accumulating for some time.

Due to theft, maintenance problems, and fraud scandals, Transnet - which manages all of the country's ports and rail freight network - has long struggled to support Africa's most industrialized economy. SAAFF reports that the economy is losing more than 120 million rand (U.S.$6.4 million) a day due to delays at Durban and other terminals.

Increased private sector participation at container ports is one of the suggested adjustments to the logistics system, according to a statement made last week by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.

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