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By Brian Sokutu

Senior Print Journalist

Gordhan’s working group seeks to end Durban port chaos

'The port is no longer recognised as a gateway to Africa, but one of the worst-performing ports – chasing away imports and investments.'

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has assembled a working group to find a solution to inefficiencies at the Durban harbour and the traffic gridlock at Bayhead Road leading to the port.

According to Dave Logan, chair of SA Freight Forwarders Association (Saffa), whose members include Grindrod and Bidvest Panalpina Logistics, a recent meeting attended by 180 stakeholders was held with Gordhan in Durban to map out a lasting solution to truck delays at the port.

In terms of the National Ports Act, the harbour is owned by Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) and operated by Transnet Port Terminals (TPT), responsible for loading and offloading ships.

“Following an instruction by the minister, we are putting together the group, composed of stakeholders, who include public enterprises acting director-general Kgathatso Tlhakudi and representatives of Transnet Port Terminals,” Logan said.

“The group will start its work in the first week of December. Saffa members have, for years, lost millions of rands due to difficulties at the port, which include inefficiencies, poor infrastructure and congestion at the Bayhead Road,” said Logan.

This week, a tense atmosphere prevailed around the harbour – the second largest port in Africa, after Egypt’s Port Said – when angry container transport operators staged a protest, with trucks blocking both lanes of Bayhead Road.

“Despite all the undertakings and ministerial visits, we were not given a platform to demonstrate the losses we suffer as a result of the port’s inefficiencies,” said one protester.

“The increased delays and waiting times have led to the tripling of labour costs and higher fuel consumption.

“The port is no longer recognised as a gateway to Africa, but one of the worst-performing ports – chasing away imports and investments.

“Transporters are being subjected to penalties due to late arrivals, port storage and container demurrage,” he said.

TNPA spokesperson Ayanda Somagaca said this week’s traffic congestion “has been brought under control, with traffic moving, although still under pressure”.

Somagaca said TNPA, the SA Police Service, Durban Metro and terminal operators “worked tirelessly to ensure that operations at the various depots and terminals returned to normal as soon as possible”.


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