November 20, 2023

Container Crunch at South African Harbours Worsens

As many as 70 000 containers are estimated to be stranded on ships due to a huge backlog in Durban Harbour, KwaZulu Natal (KZN).

According to local media, more than 60 vessels are waiting to be offloaded, as of Monday 20 November. Transnet, the managing port authority, has estimated that it will take between seven to 15 weeks to clear the mass of ships.

On Friday, 17 November, the company told one news outlet that they had “deployed industrial engineers to maximise berth performance at the container terminals.” However, some experts have questioned whether they have the funds to fix the basic equipment.

Unfortunately, the matter isn’t only restricted to the port in Durban. The harbour in Cape Town, Western Cape is currently seeing a delay of two weeks to offload cargo, while trucks in Richards Bay, KZN have been queued up outside of a bulk storage depot due to unsafe road conditions.

With the festive season nearing, many pundits are concerned about the impact the delays will have on the economy, as exports that may have boosted trade are currently unable to leave the country.

International companies are also becoming frustrated with the impact on their business timelines and shipping dates.

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