After the Durban port siege by looters last week, Transnet has moved to reassure the nation that service levels in the ports of Durban and Richards Bay have improved.
Spokesperson of Transnet, Ayanda Shezi, said mop up operations were under way with ports and terminal operations slowing beginning to normalise.
“The Port of Richards Bay has managed to clear all shipping backlogs. Terminal operations at the Port of Durban continue to improve. Marine service operations to service vessels have been available throughout this period.”
For citrus and other exports commodity groups, this was a temporary relief but were currently evaluating the situation day by day.
Citrus Growers Association (CGA) Chief Executive Officer Justin Chadwick, writing in his weekly newsletter, said the situation around KZN has not yet normalised.
“There are reports that many growers, shippers and transporters have now despatched their vehicles to Durban. We need to open up the citrus trade lanes sequentially: there is still fruit in the cold stores that needs to be cleared, there are many vessels outside Durban Port that still need to discharge and load.”
Transnet had made a call for all shipping lines to communicate ‘changes and plans to vessel movements,’ promising to keep customers abreast of any developments over the next few weeks.
According to CGA, Transnet Durban Port reported that Pier 1 still had over 260 import reefers on hand and these ‘needed to be uplifted as soon as possible to open space for exports.’
“All Durban citrus fruit cold store facilities are now back to good operational capability. Only limited containers are available for cold stores to load out containers. Farm trucks are arriving in good numbers and these are being tended to. All Durban citrus fruit cold store facilities are intact, well- guarded and secure,” CGA announced.
Tight security has been added to cold stores on entry points of the port, in order to avert cargo vandalism.
“The Transnet Pipeline network remains operational. However, fuel and food shortages, as well as remaining road closures in the Durban port vicinity, continue to constrain the rest of the supply chain, as trucks cannot get into and out of the port, resulting in backlogs. In Richards Bay, where trucks handle dry bulk commodities, truck movements are underway,” added Ayanda Shezi.
CGA advised growers to not add further pressure to an already severely compromised port precinct as packhouses were finding it difficult to source transport at this time.
“We still need to clear all fruit already being staged on trucks and as well as what is on the packhouse floor and in urgent need of going under cooling,” said Chadwick.