Transnet denies CPPI findings, adds tugs

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Transnet met with World Bank representatives to discuss the 2023 Container Port Performance Index, which highlighted the poor rankings for South African ports.

Transnet denies CPPI, adds tugs
New tugs for ports of Durban and East London © Screenshot / TNPA / X

On 10 June 2024, Transnet met with World Bank representatives to discuss its recent 2023 Container Port Performance Index (CPPI), which revealed that four of South Africa’s ports continued to rank among the worst-performing in the world.

CPPI ranked Cape Town in last place of the 405 ports listed, Ngqura (Coega) was ranked at 404, Durban at 398, and Port Elizabeth at 391.

Container terminals at these four ports are operated by the Transnet Port Terminals (TPT).

Transnet now claims that the World Bank incorrectly uses the duration of a vessel’s stay as a measure of container port cargo handling performance, relied on third-party sample data, and failed to give measured terminals access to the data sample for verification prior to publication.

“Upon entering a port, a vessel is serviced by many role players before the actual loading and offloading of cargo, and these services contribute to the length of its stay. The Bank’s measurement of vessel stay in port does not take into consideration throughput and other factors that determine the duration of a stay. While the World Bank does not guarantee the accuracy of the data in the report, the results purport to be an indicative measure of port performance,” Transnet says in its media statement.

In the meeting, the Bank’s Transport Specialists advised that the CPPI is not a comprehensive indicator of container terminal performance and that it only seeks to advise on the stay of a vessel in a port. Transnet is of the opinion that the index is, therefore, not correctly titled.

The report is based on available data from the Automatic Identification System (AIS) and liner shipping data.

Transnet adds that “an accurate performance index can have a positive and constructive impact on plans to improve port cargo handling performance. On the other hand, an inaccurate index has a damaging reputational impact on measured terminals. Accordingly, it is key to afford measured terminals an opportunity to assess the sample data for verification.”

Transnet claims that it has not been afforded any opportunity to comment on or verify the accuracy of the data or the facts attributed to it in the report.

“Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) has been requesting access to this data over the past few years, without any success. In the meeting, it was agreed that this data would now be made available to allow Transnet an opportunity to interrogate the data. There was also a general acceptance that the report should have been made available to measured terminals to provide them with an opportunity to comment, with a commitment that this would happen going forward. We are of the opinion that we should be given a right to reply before any report relating to our performance is finalised or published. Transnet only became aware of this report through the media,” Transnet adds.

Furthermore, the company says it “has been transparent with the industry and has explained the challenges in the ports and the interventions being implemented to address the root causes of these challenges.”

“The industry is aware that as a result of inclement weather and equipment challenges, TPT’s Durban Container Terminal (DCT) Pier 2 and the Cape Town Container Terminal experienced severe backlogs in the last quarter of 2023. However, since October 2023, Transnet has been implementing a Recovery Plan to improve operational and financial performance across the business. As a result of various tactical initiatives pursued as part of the Recovery Plan specifically targeted at improving productivity and optimising the operations, it is clear that there has been a stabilisation in the business as well as a real improvement in rail and port operations,” Transnet says.

According to the company, the Recovery Plan initiatives include the acquisition of cargo handling equipment and contracted original equipment manufacturers that are onsite to provide technical support and supply critical spares for the existing terminal fleets. A 24-hour maintenance regime is also in place to secure the availability and reliability of existing equipment.

“While the weather continues to disrupt operations, contingency plans are in place and integrated planning and collaboration engagements with customers and industry are ongoing. TPT has also enhanced its container management system with the help of US-based NAVIS. Transnet continues to work with its partners, customers, and all stakeholders, including academic institutions and industry bodies, to improve its overall performance and make its customers globally competitive. We continue to collaborate with all our partners to ensure that we remain on course in the implementation of the Recovery Plan and necessary reforms despite historical underinvestment in equipment and maintenance across the business. As a business, we prioritise handling cargo and moving all the volumes we can to serve South Africa’s economic needs, and our recovery efforts are yielding tangible results,” Transnet concludes in the media statement.

Read more: City of Cape Town: “Integration of private sector in port is necessary”

New tugs

This week, Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) has taken delivery of the first four tugboats to boost marine fleet availability and shipping efficiencies at the ports of Durban and East London.

The arrival of the tugboats is a part of the company’s marine fleet renewal programme, which entails replacing the marine fleet with the latest technology to extend the lifespan of marine assets. The move also adds value to the timely implementation of the Transnet-wide Recovery Plan, whose core focus includes improved availability and reliability of critical equipment.

This delivery is part of TNPA’s R1 billion investment in acquiring seven tugboats. These tugs will replace marine craft that has reached its operational lifespan. With the latest delivery, the Port of Durban has been allocated two tugs with the Port of East London receiving the other two.

The tugboats, built by Damen Shipyards Cape Town, have a 60-ton bollard pull, which is an improvement from the current 32 and 40-ton bollard pull capacity of the existing tugboats.

The fleet has docked at the Port of Durban’s Drydock and will undergo various technical tests for three weeks. Upon completion, TNPA will hold a ceremony to launch, name and christen the tugboats – an old marine tradition believed to bring good luck to the vessel and those who sail with it.

The phased delivery of the remaining three tugs will be completed by August 2024.