‘Dam­aged port is the worst loss’

The Mercury - - NEWS - Kam­cilla Pil­lay and Nosipho Mn­goma

WITH the freight in­dus­try’s con­tri­bu­tion to the Dur­ban econ­omy a whop­ping 20%, the im­pact of Tues­day’s storm on the Dur­ban Port will be felt for a long time.

Dur­ban Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try chief ex­ec­u­tive Du­mile Cele said yes­ter­day it was im­pos­si­ble to es­ti­mate an amount in terms of fi­nan­cial losses at this stage.

The man­ag­ing di­rec­tor at the Mediter­ranean Ship­ping Com­pany Dur­ban, Rosario Sarno, said con­tin­gency plans would need to be put in place.

“While ship­ping lines can give some vague es­ti­mates based on dam­ages suf­fered by ves­sels, con­tain­ers and de­pots, the real losses to the in­dus­try will be, in our opin­ion, a direct con­se­quence of the dam­ages suf­fered by the port of Dur­ban,” she said.

Sarno said the con­tainer ter­mi­nals of Dur­ban were the true gate­way of the South African In­dus­try.

“The Dur­ban Con­tainer Ter­mi­nal DCT and Pier 1 were just com­ing out of a pe­riod of heavy con­ges­tion, but the events of Tues­day seem to have brought big­ger chal­lenges to the TPT (Transnet Port Ter­mi­nal) and, con­se­quently, to the rest of the in­dus­try.”

Robin Legg, the group ex­port man­ager at man­u­fac­turer Ferro SA, said the clo­sure of the port had led to de­lays in their in­com­ing and out­go­ing de­liv­er­ies. In some in­stances, where ships could not come into the har­bour, they by­passed Dur­ban and in­stead off­loaded the cargo at an­other port, and the prod­ucts would have to be brought back to Dur­ban by rail or road, a cost not orig­i­nally ac­counted for.

Ferro is faced with such a mat­ter, where a de­liv­ery that would have taken nine days will take 28. “Since we’ve had de­layed ship­ments, we are look­ing at de­layed de­liv­er­ies, which could really hurt us,” said Legg.

Transnet Na­tional Ports Au­thor­ity (TNPA) Dur­ban port man­ager, Moshe Mot­lohi, said they and all op­er­a­tors and port ten­ants were still con­duct­ing cost as­sess­ments.

Mean­while, 95% of the to­tal port area was de­clared safe for nav­i­ga­tion of ves­sels.

“The only area where ves­sel move­ment is still sus­pended is along the C-Shed area, where sound­ing sur­veys are still in progress.”

Chal­lenge

“The chal­lenge is on the land side, where ter­mi­nal op­er­a­tors and port ten­ants have been af­fected dif­fer­ently by the in­clement weather in terms of their own cargo han­dling ca­pa­bil­i­ties, equip­ment and op­er­a­tions,” he said.

Transnet also had some dam­age to in­fra­struc­ture, such as quay walls, but the most se­ri­ously af­fected was the su­per­struc­ture, or move­able cargo-han­dling equip­ment that be­longed to dif­fer­ent ter­mi­nal op­er­a­tors and port ten­ants, said Mot­lohi.

To deal with the cri­sis, 70 lo­cally trained ma­rine work­ers from TNPA and the South African Mar­itime As­so­ci­a­tion (Samsa) hit the ground run­ning on Tues­day. It took six TNPA and two pri­vate tugs to do the job, said Mot­lohi.

He said the ports au­thor­ity had a cri­sis man­age­ment process in place.

“We ac­ti­vated our 24-hour Busi­ness Con­ti­nu­ity Plan and mo­bilised all af­fected de­part­ments. I’m proud of how TNPA, Samsa and the pri­vate sec­tor joined forces. Our fo­cus now is on con­tin­u­ing the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the re­cov­ery op­er­a­tions and sup­port­ing ter­mi­nal op­er­a­tors to re­store nor­mal­ity,” said Mot­lohi.

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