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Port operations this week were characterized by bad weather, ongoing equipment failures and shortages, vessel ranging, traffic jams, and load shedding. At least 16 operational hours were lost in Cape Town this week due to vessel range. In contrast, a number of vessel movements in Durban were off schedule mostly because to bad weather, technical failures, and shortages. Operational performance at the individual ports was dominated by unfavourable weather conditions in the Eastern Cape during the first few days of the week. In terms of rail, extensive cable theft was observed on the line between Ladysmith and Pietermaritzburg toward the end of the week. This was the first major event to cause a complete shutdown of operations in weeks. Earlier in the week, there were two other instances of wire theft and vandalism on the rail network, which caused delays for trains of about 16 hours. Last but not least, TPT in Durban said this week that they will stop waiting for rail containers that do not fulfil export stack deadlines since it has a negative impact on the vessel line up and lengthens vessel waiting times.

Key Notes:

  • An average of ~6 933 containers was handled per day, with ~9 486 containers projected for next week.
  • Rail cargo handled out of Durban amounted to 1 967 containers, ↓18% compared to last week.
  • SARS merchandise trade (June): exports (↓8,6%, m/m), imports (↓1,6%); YTD surplus: R5,6 billion.
  • Cross-border queue times were ↑2,1 hours (w/w), with transit times ↓0,4 hours (w/w); SA borders were almost
    unchanged, averaging ~13,7 hours (↑29%); Other SADC borders averaged ~11,0 hours (↓8%).
  • Global schedule reliability has finally declined by ↓2,5%, with late vessel arrivals at 4,36 days.
  • Global freight rates shot up significantly this week, increasing by ↑11,8% (or $185) to $1 761 per 40ft.
  • Global air cargo demand in July continued the trend, showing a ↓5% drop in tonnage—rates @ $2,27.

Port operations – General:

  • This week, port operations were characterised by adverse weather, persistent equipment breakdowns and shortages, vessel ranging, congestion, and load-shedding.
  • Vessel ranging ensured that no less than 16 operational hours were lost in Cape Town this week.
  • In contrast, several vessel movements deviated from their respective schedules in Durban primarily due to adverse weather, equipment breakdowns, and shortages.
  • Inclement weather conditions in the Eastern Cape during the early stages of the week dominated operational performance at the respective ports.
  • For rail, excessive cable theft was experienced on the line near Ladysmith and Pietermaritzburg towards the latter stages of the week, representing the first significant incident in weeks that brought forth a complete halt to operations.
  • Two other incidents of cable theft and vandalism occurred on the rail network earlier in the week, disrupting the movement of trains for approximately 16 hours.
  • Lastly, TPT in Durban reported this week that they would no longer wait for rail containers that
    are not meeting export stack deadlines as it negatively impacts the vessel lineup and exacerbates vessel waiting time.

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