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Improved operations at the Port of Cape Town welcomed

The efficient and effective performance of the Port of Cape Town is critical to economic recovery and growth for the Western Cape however, ongoing operational challenges have resulted in poor service levels that are impacting our economy in the Western Cape.

The Covid-19 pandemic has further aggravated the situation to such a degree that three major shipping lines cancelled calls to Cape Town or implemented a Cape Town congestion surcharge.

This required urgent action and interventions, and I am pleased to confirm that through ongoing engagements between ourselves and the Transnet Port Terminals management, and considerable effort by all stakeholders in the port logistics chain, we have in recent weeks seen some welcome developments.

Mr. Velile Dube was appointed as the new CEO of Transnet Port Terminals, a crew of 20 staff members were brought in from the Port of Durban to temporarily assist and the Port of Cape Town received four new straddle cranes.

While the additional staff returned to the Port of Durban last week, there has been a consistent effort to contain Covid-19 infections and, with the assistance of the provincial Department of Health and the Department of Economic Development and Tourism, this has enabled a number of key personnel to return to work maintaining the six-gang operation. And plans to introduce a seventh gang are underway.

The result is that:

• the average container moves per day has increased from 533 in the week of 25 May, to 1 179 last week; and
• the period for berthing of vessels at anchor has reduced from 20 days to 1 day.

On Friday (31 July 2020) a vessel docked after waiting only one day, and yesterday a vessel berthed on the day of arrival. This is a significant improvement, and if this performance is sustained during next week and beyond, would mean that the shipping lines could possibly re-install calls to the Port of Cape Town by the second week of August.

There is still much work to be done. And so, in addition to our existing efforts, the Department of Economic Development and Tourism have recently approved a project to integrate data from all fruit packhouses in the Western Cape into a decision-support tool that identifies the best days, times and routes for optimal delivery of containers for export in order to ease congestion in the container terminal.

And through the department’s Red Tape Reduction Unit, we will continue to investigate additional interventions to reduce the cost of doing business in the Port of Cape Town.

Furthermore, I look forward to engaging with the Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, and the Transnet management team to implement the permanent structural changes needed to make the Port of Cape Town a globally competitive port.
Source: David Maynier, Western Cape Minister Of Finance And Economic Opportunities

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