Port of Cape Town clearing backlogs

The Port of Cape Town is ramping up operations and reducing shipping backlogs caused by the impact of COVID-19 on the port’s human resources.

By 2 July 2020 the number of vessels waiting at anchorage had been reduced from eight to one vessel for the Multi-Purpose Terminal (MPT) and from 11 to four vessels for the Cape Town Container Terminal (CTCT).

While marine operations human capital is currently at 60% capacity due to positive cases of COVID-19 coupled with employees in quarantine, a full marine service is available from Transnet National Ports Authority to move vessels in and out of the port. The full marine fleet available includes two tugs, and a third tug on standby, one workboat and one pilot boat.

Berthing services – which was most affected by the virus – is now back to normal with two berthing gangs.

Terminal operator Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) has also increased its resources. The container terminal is currently operating at 70% while the MPT is at 75% capacity.

CTCT is operating five gangs 24/7 and working towards having six gangs operational. Cape Town MPT is operating two berths: Berth F with one gang and Berth H with three gangs.

This week Transnet announced that 20 employees from Durban Container Terminal have volunteered to be deployed to Cape Town to address backlogs. They include operators of driver articulated vehicles (DAVs), rubber-tyred gantry cranes, and ship-to-shore cranes and together have over 100 years’ experience. All have been screened and tested negative for COVID-19.

Progress to restore full operations was shared this week in TNPA and TPT’s bi-weekly virtual meetings with all port stakeholders, including private operators, shipping lines, the Department of Economic Development and Tourism, as well as industry bodies.

Glen Steyn from the Department of Economic Development and Tourism expressed his appreciation for the collaboration and transparency and sent condolences to affected employees and their families. He pointed out that problems existed prior to COVID-19 and said that the top three priorities remained maintaining equipment to perform at the right levels, reducing the waiting time – both inside and outside the terminals and at anchorage – and integrating data. He also acknowledged that not all the problems could be addressed only at port level.

Mike Walwyn, Western Cape director of the South African Association of Freight Forwarders (Saaff) and chairperson of the Cape Town Chamber of Commerce and Port Liaison Forum, supported these sentiments.

Port Manager, Mpumi Dweba-Kwetana said the port was looking into a temporal truck booking solution, which was presently being piloted at the Port of Durban. The port would proactively communicate planning stats to allow exporters to plan accordingly.

Megan Gobey from the South African Association of Ship Owners and Agents (SAASOA) commended Transnet

Port Terminals for working three ship to shore cranes on one vessel to improve productivity.

Terry Gale representing the Exporters Club said they appreciated the transparency and were pleased to see the port moving forward.

Dweba-Kwetana said, “We value the feedback from our stakeholders and will keep working closely with them to address the backlogs and restore full operations. We remain committed to safeguarding port users and employees while ensuring the movement of cargo for our customers.”

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Source: Transnet National Ports Authority

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