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The coordinated attempts to reduce the existing port backlog persisted, but there were still some significant operational obstacles to overcome, most notably unfavorable weather and frequent, avoidable equipment failures and shortages. Strong winds and vessel ranging caused more than 24 hours of lost operations in Cape Town, while equipment problems in Durban are making the port’s present backlogs worse (at about 61 968 TEU at anchorage). The Ports of 8 Gqeberha and Ngqura are suffering greatly from the inefficiencies at the Port of Cape Town, as they have been listed among the top 30 most congested ports in the world by Linerlytica this week. With an extremely high queue-to-berth ratio of 6,62, statistics taken on Wednesday showed that the two ports together had over 46,000 TEUs stranded at outer anchoring. This helps to partially explain Cape Town’s relative lack of business. Furthermore, according to the most recent TFR reports, on November 17, 2023, at 17:50, a derailment happened on the Kaapmuiden section (single line) of the Selati line. Train service between Phalaborwa and Komatipoort has been paused while teams deal with the derailment.

Key Notes:

  • An average of ~8 486 containers was handled per day, with ~8 852 containers projected for next week.
  • Rail cargo handled out of Durban amounted to 2 429 containers, down by ↓14% from last week.
    Cross-border queue times were ↑0,8 hours (w/w), with transit times ↓0,7 hours (w/w); SA borders increased by ~1,2 hours, averaging ~14,2 hours (↑9%); Other SADC borders averaged ~6,8 hours (↓12%).
  • Container throughput surged by ↑5,4% in September, marking the highest monthly growth in 2023.
  • Global freight rates have continued to fall and are down by ↓6% (or $85) to $1 384 per 40-ft container.
  • Global air cargo tonnages have been stable since mid-October, with a ↑3% increase in global rates.

Port operations – General:

  • The concerted efforts to clear the current port backlog continued; however, some notable operational constraints continued, particularly adverse weather conditions as well as continuous and unnecessary equipment breakdowns and shortages.
  • Poor weather continued in Cape Town as more than 24 operational hours were conceded to vessel ranging and strong winds, while equipment woes in Durban are exacerbating the current backlogs at the port (at around 61 968 TEU at anchorage).
  • The inefficiencies at the Port of Cape Town are being harshly felt at the Ports of 8 Gqeberha and Ngqura, as they have made an appearance on Linerlytica’s top 30 most congested ports in the world this week.
  • Statistics recorded on Wednesday indicated that the two ports combined had more than 46 000 TEUs stuck at outer anchorage with a very high queue-to-berth ratio of 6,62. This also goes some way towards explaining the relative lack of business for Cape Town.
  • Additionally, the latest reports from TFR indicate that a derailment on the Kaapmuiden section (single line) on the Selati line occurred on 17 November 2023 at 17:50. Teams are attending to the derailment as the train service between Phalaborwa and Komatipoort has been suspended.

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