Crisis in Cape Town

Congestion and poor relations between management and workers are severely affecting operations at the Port of Cape Town

A three day strike was held in the first week of December that Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) described as “illegal.” In July Transnet employees at several South African ports were suspended for a round of what the company called “illegal” strike action.

That strike was triggered by TPT’s failure to pay bonuses because payments were suspended during a long audit process. It appears that the industrial action is both the result of, and contributing to, long delays in processing cargo.

Port congestion has become so serious that the provincial government has decided to intervene. The Western Cape executive council member for economic affairs, David Maynier, said: “We are concerned by the significant issues at the Port of Cape Town particularly with regards to congestion at the container terminal. These issues are impacting on the costs and efficiencies of the logistics and export industries, and are impeding economic growth and job creation in the Western Cape.”

Maynier said that there were too few cranes at the port, with an average of 2.5 cranes allocated to each container vessel. “The impact is an additional delay of at least three days in port per ship. With 510 vessels calling at the Cape Town container terminal in the past year, this implies a total loss of 1,530 ship days per year due to congestion,” he said. The lack of port capacity and insufficient road access to the port were also blamed.

Representatives of all port stakeholders, including TPT, freight forwarders, shipping lines, Navis and the South African Revenue Service, attended a meeting on 5 December that was convened by the provincial government to discuss the problem. This resulted on 9 December in the creation of a task force comprising ten industry stakeholders to improve port performance. The task force is to ensure that improvements at the port begin to be implemented within three months.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *