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Following a sluggish start because of the long weekend, port operations this week improved. Weather-related delays, ongoing equipment failures and shortages, load-shedding, roadshows, and congestion all contributed to delays. Fortunately, the Port of Cape Town has cleared its backlogs, and ships berthed this week upon arrival. The ATDF trucker demonstrations in Durban slowed down some traffic since personnel and transporters couldn’t enter and depart the port. Equipment issues, particularly at Pier 2, ensured that the amount of bookings made available was insufficient to meet industry demand. As one of the East London tugs went out of service, raising concerns among industry participants, the ports of Ngqura and East London are pooling marine resources. In addition, 29 cargoes on the container corridor on Wednesday were delayed as a result of significant cable theft events that occurred throughout the week.

Key Notes:

  • An average of ~8 174 containers was handled per day, with ~8 784 containers projected for next week.
  • Rail cargo handled out of Durban amounted to 1 711 containers, ↓26% compared to last week.
  • The latest Ctrack “Transport Freight Index” increased by ↑3,3% in March (m/m) and is also ↑3,3% (y/y).
  • Cross-border queue times were ↑0,3 hours, with transit times ↓1,7 hours, SA borders ~11,6 hours (↓1%).
  • SARS merchandise trade (March): exports (↑27%, m/m), imports (↑32%); YTD deficit: R6,2 billion.
  • Global container freight rates increased slightly by ↑1% (or $23) to $1 763 per 40 ft this week.
  • Global air cargo demand decreased in March, with (CTKs) falling by ↓7,7% (y/y).

Port operations – General:

  • Port operations this week picked up after a languid start due to the long weekend.
  • Delays were experienced thanks to adverse weather, continuous equipment breakdowns and shortages, load-shedding, roadshows, and congestion.
  • Fortunately, backlogs have been cleared at the Port of Cape Town, and vessels berthed on arrival this week.
  • On the road, the ATDF trucker protests in Durban caused some stoppages, as employees and transporters were blocked from entering and exiting the port.
  • Equipment challenges – especially at Pier 2 – ensured that the number of bookings made available was inadequate to service the demand from the industry.
  • The ports of Ngqura and East London are sharing marine resources as one of the East London tugs went out of commission, causing concern amongst industry participants.
  • Furthermore, on Wednesday, there were 29 loads on the container corridor held up due to major cable theft incidents throughout the week.

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