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By Citizen Reporter

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Durban: Exponential time increase at port with delays up to 364 hours in Sept

The Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry expresses concern over delays at the Port of Durban, resulting in 35,000 containers stuck at sea.


The nonprofit Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry says it is deeply concerned about the delays at the Port of Durban, leading to an estimated 35 000 containers being stuck at sea.

“We believe this delay is due to a lack of equipment maintenance and a failure to buy equipment and effectively run the straddles [freight-carrying vehicles], stacks and tugs,” said the chamber’s chief executive Palesa Phili.

“The lack of maintenance and ageing equipment continues to disturb port operations.

“The Port of Durban is one of the busiest in Africa but also one of the most congested. In 2017, it had about 112 straddles operating. Since then, the situation has deteriorated.”

ALSO READ: Port of Durban crisis may have economic ramifications

Exponential increase in delayed hours

Phili said her organisation had been monitoring the situation since the beginning of the year and had seen an exponential increase in delayed hours. In January, the delay was 39 hours, in July 96 hours, August 194 hours and September 364 hours.

“This is unacceptable, especially as businesses must bear the brunt of these delays,” Phili said.

“The backlog is costing shipping companies millions [of rands], resulting in job losses and a negative economic impact across crucial economic value chains and sectors.

“Our members in the clothing and textile sector, automotive sector, and producers of major appliances have been stuck for the past 12 days.

ALSO READ: Transnet says it can clear Durban port backlog by early 2024

“We need tangible reforms to turn Transnet around,” she said.

“As we approach the festive season, businesses – especially small, medium and micro enterprises – depend on their stock to serve customers. Furthermore, cargo arriving during this time of the year is sensitive; failure to land the goods on time will result in retailers carrying headstock, leading to unplanned losses.”

Request for chambers and businesses to be included on National Logistics Crisis Committee

Phili said organised business had requested that chambers and businesses, including the shipping lines, be included on the National Logistics Crisis Committee. They believed this would allow the private sector to present tangible solutions.

“Merely using desktop solutions will not work,” she said.

ALSO READ: Durban Port congestion sparks chaos

The chamber is also opposing the privatisation of the container terminal and has requested the appointment of an independent engineering consulting firm with strong project and programme management expertise to run the equipment.

“Shipping lines have made an offer to the government to buy the equipment needed to fix Transnet over the long term and recoup their investment through relaxed surcharges,” Phili said.

“We do not have the leisure of fixing the port within 18 to 24 months; we need an immediate solution. We need private-sector partnerships.

“Shipping lines and Transnet must enter into a joint agreement, allowing the lines to buy the necessary equipment and rebuild infrastructure.”

However, the private sector must be given an opportunity to recoup its investment through the relaxation of tariffs.

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