In what is a further ominous sign of South Africa’s logistics crisis, South Africa has been dropped from one of Maersk’s major shipping routes – the Far East-West Africa service.

The move comes in the wake of a new Maersk and MSC surcharge imposed on containers arriving in South Africa, effective as from the first week of December. The move by the two powerhouse global shipping lines is not altogether unexpected given the major congestion at South African ports which sees container ships sitting an anchor for days before berthing. These delays affect both Cape Town and Durban, with knock-on effects right along the supply chain.

Cape Town will now get a feeder service, the Cape Town Express, which will link South Africa to the Far East via Port Louis.

In announcing the change Maersk referenced South Africa’s Port congestion issues: “South Africa, which is facing congestion, will get connected on a dedicated feeder service via Port Louis and be delinked from the FEW service in order to improve reliability and transit time,” Maersk said in a press release, adding that the delinking of Cape Town would “enable quicker transit times of up to seven days between the South West African ports and Asian ports.

“With the removal of Cape Town from the FEW6, a brand-new service, the Cape Town Express, will be launched. The new service caters for consistent cargo movement between Port Louis and Cape Town. In Port Louis, there will be connectivity from and to Asia using the Safari service,” Maersk said.

It is still unclear how the change will impact on South African exporters, but it is likely to accelerate efforts to address the current congestion crisis.

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