Ports go-slow continues as exporters count the cost

The Port of Ngqura is affected most of all by the go-slow labour impasse.

The go-slow labour impasse over unpaid incentive bonuses that has affected the ports of Cape Town, Ngqura and Durban was still unresolved this morning with the Citrus Growers’ Association (CGA) reporting that 10 vessels were circling outside Ngqura, waiting to load fruit.

CGA logistics development manager Mitchell Brooke said Ngqura had been worst affected with farmers in the Eastern Cape area now resorting to sending their fruit by truck to Durban and Cape Town because Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) was running out of throughput capacity at Coega.

“It’s having a very big impact,” he said.

“Although we’re not hearing anything from Transnet at the moment we can see it in our daily performance reports.”

He added that TPT’s Pier 2 terminal at Durban was also still affected, with through-put having slowed down by about half the usual time it took to turn a vessel around.

“Ordinarily it takes about two days from the time a vessel has berthed to the time it leaves the harbour. Now it takes about four.”

Meanwhile Transnet appears to have gone to ground about the dispute with what it said last week was illegal labour action.

At the time it confirmed that Ngqura was the worst affected harbour, adding that it was “engaging with its employees to ensure that the situation at the Ngqura Container Terminal is normalised”.

For now no word has been received from Transnet about how its labour resolution efforts are doing.

The go-slow and its trickle-down effect on South Africa’s supply chain capacity of citrus, one of the country’s strongest export products, is costing the country around R50-R100 million a week.


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