South Africa

Transnet crisis sees almost 100 ships stranded

A maritime gridlock at South African ports has kept nearly 100 vessels waiting to dock as Transnet, the state-owned logistics firm, struggles with breakdowns and bad weather.

Outdated equipment has contributed to the slow turnaround at Durban’s container terminal, which handles more than 40% of South Africa’s port traffic, Transnet Chairman Andile Sangqu told reporters in an online briefing on Monday.

The latest bottlenecks add to financial problems and poor performance throughout its other operations.   

Nearly 70 containers, cargo and bulk carriers were in or around Durban on Wednesday, according to ship tracking data compiled by Bloomberg.

The backlog, in part, prompted A.P. Moller-Maersk to dump Cape Town as a stop on one of its Asia routes. 

There were 96 vessels waiting at anchorage outside South Africa’s commercial ports earlier this week, the South African Association of Freight Forwarders said in an emailed statement on Tuesday.

That results in direct costs of R98 million ($5.2 million) a day when congestion surcharges are added.

“We must improve operational efficiency and increase throughput, or else the trade, transport, and logistics industries will continue to curtail desperately needed economic growth for South Africa,” the group said.


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