Transnet halts operations at several ports


TNPA suspended operations at several South African ports due to strong winds and waves, further delaying backlog clearance efforts.

Transnet halts operations at multiple ports
Port of Cape Town / Archive © Shutterstock

On Tuesday, Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) announced the suspension of operations at several ports due to strong winds and waves impacting parts of South Africa, further delaying efforts to clear existing backlogs.

Since Sunday, the coastal regions, particularly the Western Cape, have faced disruptive rains and violent winds, resulting in damaging waves.

State-owned Transnet, which was already struggling to address port backlogs caused by under-investment in equipment and maintenance, reported that operations at four of its seven ports, namely Cape Town, Saldanha, Port Elizabeth, and Ngqura, were affected by the adverse weather conditions.

Additionally, the South African Weather Service issued a warning on Tuesday about damaging waves around Durban on the east coast, home to the country’s largest and one of Africa’s busiest ports.

“Transnet is continuously monitoring operations at the ports of Cape Town, Saldanha, Port Elizabeth, and Ngqura amid adverse weather conditions in certain parts of the country. Strong winds reaching 35-50 knots and high sea waves exceeding 3.5 meters have led to shipping movements being suspended at some ports for safety reasons. Vessels alongside are currently on standby and no major incidents have been reported thus far,” Transnet says in a statement.

“The strong winds, which have created high wave conditions, must subside before vessel movements can resume. TNPA marine operations are currently on standby to assist vessels, where required. Industry stakeholders are being kept updated on the situation,” adds Transnet.

The Cape Town Container Terminal, which has been experiencing high waves since Saturday, has three vessels on berth that are unable to work due to the terminal’s wind-bound status. Another four vessels are planned to arrive by Thursday.

In Gqeberha, the Ngqura Container Terminal had its last vessel finish in the early hours of Sunday. The port authority resolved not to berth any more vessels until Wednesday, and port terminal gates have been closed since.

The Port Elizabeth Container Terminal is also windbound, with one vessel on berth.

Additionally, the floods experienced in the Eastern Cape in June, along with current weather disruptions, have resulted in vessel congestion at the Port Elizabeth Bulk Terminal where manganese is handled. This has slowed down the operations. Despite this, the vessel calls continue.

“Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) is confident of managing the resulting vessel backlog with the recent acquisition of new cargo handling equipment across some of its terminals, as well as the support of contracted original equipment manufacturers supplying spares in the case of breakdowns. TNPA is taking appropriate measures to ensure the safety of life, protection of the environment, and prevention of property damage,” concludes Transnet.