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This week, a number of operating limitations were observed, most of them had to do with bad weather that caused traffic jams and backlogs. Despite a slight improvement in the unfavorable weather conditions in Cape Town this week, the port’s productivity was appalling and over 33 000 TEUs were left anchored. Operations in Durban were dominated by unfavorable weather and equipment issues, which had an immediate impact on landside activities related to scheduling and the number of boats available for berthing. Approximately 36,000 TEUs were stranded at anchoring. On NCT’s MoorMaster, just 10 units are working, indicating that less than 50% of the device is functional. Furthermore, cable theft continued unabatedly during the first few days of the week. The most recent occurrence happened on Tuesday and resulted in significant delays. According to allegations that surfaced earlier this week, on October 26, 2023, the South African Transport & Allied Workers’ Union (SATAWU) planned to stage a protest against “privatization.” After then, the demonstration was moved to Friday, November 3rd.

Key Notes:

  • An average of ~7 836 containers was handled per day, with ~8 378 containers projected for next week.
  • Rail cargo handled out of Durban amounted to 2 445 containers for the week, ↑13% (w/w).
    “Land Transport Survey” for August shows the payload decreased by ↓3,3% (y/y)—road/rail at 84/16.
  • Cross-border queue times were ↓0,2 hours (w/w), with transit times ↓0,2 hours (w/w); SA borders decreased by ~1,7 hours, averaging ~10,3 hours (↓14%); Other SADC borders averaged ~6,8 hours (↓15%).
  • Global freight rates decreased by ↓2% (or $22) to $1 342 per 40-ft container this week. YTD: $1 711.
  • Global air cargo tonnage, capacity, and rates are all up by ↑1% (w/w), as rates are trading at $2,38/kg).

Port operations – General:

  • Several operational constraints were reported this week, primarily revolving around adverse weather conditions, leading to congestion and backlogs.
  • Although the adverse weather in Cape Town abated somewhat this week, productivity at the port was abysmal, while more than 33 000 TEUs are stuck at anchorage.
  • Inclement weather and equipment challenges dominated operations in Durban as it directly impacted waterside activities and booking slot availability on the landside, as the vessels awaiting berth continued to pile up with some 36 000 TEUs stuck at anchorage.
  • Only ten units on NCTs MoorMaster are operational, suggesting that the machine’s functionality is below 50%. Additionally, unabated cable theft persisted through the earlier parts of the week, with the latest incident occurring on Tuesday, causing extensive delays.
  • Earlier this week, reports emerged that the South African Transport & Allied Workers’ Union (SATAWU) were planning to embark on protest action against ‘privatisation’ on 26 October 2023. The protest action was then postponed to Friday, 03 November.

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