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Poor weather, frequent equipment breakdowns and shortages, substantial personnel engagement, backlogs, delays, and congestion were the main causes of operational delays this week. This week, the Port of Cape Town experienced less adverse weather, which resulted in less congestion. Compared to 12 days at the beginning of the week, the average berthing delay has decreased to little over 8 days. Last week the Port of Durban had numerous difficulties, the most significant of which was the Tuesday delay of up to 15 vessels caused by employee commitments. According to the most recent data, there have been numerous security problems involving the rail system between Durban and Lions River, mostly cable theft and damage. On a more encouraging note, the Durban Ro-Ro terminal deserves praise for exceeding its installed throughput capacity of 520 000 units by more than 100 000 units during the fiscal year 2022–2023. Moreover, it is important to warn the sector about the higher storage prices, which will take effect on Saturday, April 1, 2023.

Key Notes:

  • An average of ~6 594 containers was handled per day, with ~8 533 containers projected for next week.
  • Rail cargo handled out of Durban amounted to 2 462 containers, ↓22% compared to last week.
  • The latest Ctrack “Transport Freight Index” increased by ↑1,7% in February (m/m) and is ↑2,5% (y/y).
  • Cross-border queue times were ↓1,2 hours, with transit times ↓0,1 hours, SA borders ~10,4 hours (↓25%).
  • SARS merchandise trade (January): exports (↑10,7%, m/m), imports (↓14,8%); surplus: R16,1 billion.
  • Global freight rates as per the “WCI” are again down by ↓2% (or $40) this week to $1 717 per 40 ft.
  • Global air cargo tonnages continue struggling (↓2%) despite increasing capacity and yields (↑1%).

Port operations – General:

  • This week, operational delays were caused by poor weather, recurrent equipment failures and shortages, extensive employee engagements, backlogs, delays, and congestion.
    Inclement weather conditions reduced this week at the Port of Cape Town, lessening congestion in the latter stages.
  • Average berthing delays are down to just over 8 days compared to 12 at the start of the week.
  • The Port of Durban was challenged on many fronts this week, the most notable being employee engagements delaying up to 15 vessels on Tuesday.
  • For rail, the latest reports suggest that extensive security incidents still occur between Durban and Lions River – mainly in terms of vandalism and cable theft.
  • However, on a more positive note, the Ro-Ro terminal in Durban should be commended, as it surpassed its installed throughput capacity of 520 000 units by more than 100 000 units during the 2022/23 financial year.
  • Finally, the industry should be reminded of the increased storage fees, which are set to be implemented from Saturday, 1 April 2023.

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