Transnet has deployed 20 staff to Cape Town from the Durban Container Terminal to help alleviate shipping backlogs caused by Covid-19.

This follows ongoing congestion at Cape Town Port which prompted major shipping lines to cancel their main European service to the Mother City. Port congestion in Cape Town forced some clients to truck produce to other ports.

It is unclear to what extent the boatbuilding industry has been impacted by congestion. However sources said it was unlikely Robertson and Caine would remain unaffected if the situation continued much longer.

Transnet meanwhile say they have responded to the crisis by transferring staff and reducing turnaround time at Cape Town Port. “By 2 July 2020 the number of vessels waiting at anchorage had been reduced from eight to one vessel for the Multi-Purpose Terminal (MPT) and from 11 to four vessels for the Cape Town Container Terminal (CTCT),” Transnet said in a statement. “While marine operations human capital is currently at 60% capacity due to positive cases of COVID-19 coupled with employees in quarantine, a full marine service is available from Transnet National Ports Authority to move vessels in and out of the port. The full marine fleet available includes two tugs, and a third tug on standby, one workboat and one pilot boat.”

The Container Terminal was currently operating five gangs 24/7 and Cape Town MPT operating two berths, the company said. Staff to be deployed from Durban included operators of articulated vehicles, rubber-tyred gantry cranes, and ship-to-shore cranes. “All (staff) have been screened and tested negative for Covid-19,” Transnet said.

Port Manager, Mpumi Dweba-Kwetana said the port was looking into a temporal truck booking solution, which was presently being piloted at the Port of Durban. The port would proactively communicate planning stats to allow exporters to plan accordingly.

Dweba-Kwetana said, “We value the feedback from our stakeholders and will keep working closely with them to address the backlogs and restore full operations. We remain committed to safeguarding port users and employees while ensuring the movement of cargo for our customers.”

Royal Cape Yacht Club general manager Toni Mainprize said the Port was working well with the Club to ensure boats needing critical repairs or maintenance could pass through without delays. “The congestion at the Port only really affects us as a Club when the trucks are bumper to bumper and worse on the streets. They are usually delayed in getting into the docks to either collect or drop off their good. The roads to the Club then become a little stressful for us to manoeuvre in and cause delays,” Mainprize said.

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