The government will soon release the National Logistics Roadmap as the reviewed policy guide that will deal with the logistics crisis at the ports, after considering how Transnet was planning to implement its recovery plan.
This comes as the government met with captains of industry earlier this week to discuss the economic recovery plan, focusing on the realisation of energy security on the back of intensified load shedding and the prevailing logistics crisis.
Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni on Thursday said that the Cabinet held an eight-hour meeting on Wednesday on issues of the economy, and the issue of the logistics recovery was top of the agenda.
“Transnet is going to announce this implementation plan, and we’re going to consider and release the National Logistics Roadmap as a policy guide to the working of the logistics sector and the recovery of the logistics sector,” Ntshavheni said.
“It also focuses on joint efforts on crime prevention (as well as) on working on improving the image of the country ... in that regard, you will recall that when we took delegates to the US, there was a business delegation that went with us,” she said.
Ntshavheni said the Cabinet welcomed measures and plans put in place to resolve the backlog, particularly in the ports of Durban and Richards Bay.
She said Transnet was making an intensive effort to mobilise equipment such as cranes all over the world to ensure a successful execution of its implementation plan.
“The progress made by Transnet in clearing most of the backlog at the Cape Town container terminal, with only one vessel at anchorage, is encouraging,” Ntshavheni said.
“Transnet remains committed to work with all role-players to address the challenges within the logistics sector.”
Transnet has temporarily suspended the receiving of goods via road transport into its Richards Bay Mineral Port Terminal, and more than 70 000 shipping containers are also stranded on the ships off the Port of Durban.
Transnet on Thursday said the Durban Container Terminal Pier 2 had increased the ship working hours at some of its berths in the past few days in order clear the backlog of vessels at anchor.
Durban Terminals managing executive Earle Peters said that over three consecutive days, berth 204 performed above the set ship working hour target across all three shifts, handling up to 28% more volume than planned by Sunday.
Peters said not all the vessels anchored outside the Port of Durban were destined for the Durban Container Terminals as a number of them were destined for privately-owned facilities.
“We are making steady progress in dealing with the congestion and would like to assure our customers – and the public in general – that we are fully focused on ensuring minimum disruption to festive season supply lines for imported products, and in ensuring improved access for export products too,” Peters said.
According to current plans and set targets in line with available equipment, Transnet said it would take Pier 2 about 14 weeks to clear the backlog but there were many parallel efforts aimed at reducing this time frame.
Anchor Capital investment analyst Casey Delport said the backlog at the key ports was naturally considered a serious economic challenge, impacting South Africa’s fiscal position, trade balance and economic growth.
“As such, the damage done to South Africa’s key ports and the related load shedding crises will significantly impact the economy, which will become apparent only when the fourth quarter of 2023 economic performance data comes out next year,” Delport said.