Vow to boost Durban port turnaround times

10 April 2019 | Web Article Number: ME201914241

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Vow to boost Durban port turnaround times
Hamilton Nxumalo, Transnet National Ports Authority; Nozipho Sithole, Transnet Port Terminals; Herbert Msagala, Transnet SOC and Brenda Magqwaka, Transnet Port Terminals

UNDER fire from members of the trucking and shipping industries for slow turnaround times at the Port of Durban’s container terminals, Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) has vowed to improve efficiencies, drive down costs and stamp out corruption.

“I will not shy away from saying our operations are poor,” TPT Chief Executive Nozipho Sithole told a meeting of the Transport Forum’s special interest group in Durban recently.

She said that consistency was poor, and this was partly a result of planning and skills levels, but Transnet was working to fix this. “We are having weekly sessions with South African Association of Ship Operators and Agents around planning and ticketing systems,” she said

She was responding to criticism from the floor about delays at the Durban terminal.

David Watts of the SA Association of Freight Forwarders told the forum that 80% of cargo left Durban on trucks, often after costly delays at the port, and said it was “disappointing to see” that road hauliers got scant mention in Sithole’s presentation.

Sithole said the authority would also be bringing in foreign operators to help improve efficiencies at its terminals and was looking at ways to drive down cost as “tariff growth is not going to work”.

“What is going to work is fast turnaround (times). We are beginning to see improvements in efficiency (but) there is a lot of work that we need to do to reduce the cost of doing business in South Africa and integrate with other ports in Africa,” she said.

“We are bringing in globally recognised terminal operators to inform us how best we can do this.”

She said they were in plans with a private operator to run a liquid bulk edible oil import terminal in Richards Bay. Transnet was also open to a global partnership at its Ngqura container port to use spare capacity.

Corruption also came under the spotlight at the forum. Herbert Msagala, the parastatal’s chief for growth and diversification, told delegates they are grappling with the scourge.

“I cannot avoid the elephant in the room in Transnet. The country is going through a new dawn, a process of self-cleansing. We are challenged in terms of high-value transactions we have made,” he said.

“We will appear before the Zondo commission (into state capture) in May. We can only clear our brand if we change our reality. We are reviewing all our high-value tenders.”

Msagala called on the transport industry to alert Transnet to corruption in the organisation and to join it in a drive to improve efficiency.

“The efficiency war is an industry war. If we are not going to allow the private sector to partner with us we are not going to win the war.”

But he acknowledged there was pressure on Transnet to lead the charge.

“We cannot lower the costs of doing business in the country - part of the national transport system objectives - unless we ourselves are efficient,” he said.

Hamilton Nxumalo, Transnet Ports Authority general manager, detailed planned investments to improve operations, including:

- Two new harbour pilot helicopters to be commissioned in June for Durban and Richards Bay and one for Cape Town in 2021;

- Three new dredgers, including a R100 million plough tug expected to be completed in Port Elizabeth in July.

- Berth expansion and deepening at the Durban container terminal would resume after governance issues had been resolved;

- The Durban dig-out port was still on the table, with its timing depending on economic growth in the country; and

- The feasibility study for the Boegoebaai harbour development north of Port Nolloth would be concluded by the end of April. – staff reporter and ANA

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