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Commercial ports in South Africa experienced operational problems with equipment shortages and failures, bad weather, backlogs, and congestion. As delays affected port operations all week, it was a very difficult week for all of our national ports. All operations, particularly those on the waterside, were impacted early this week by a system breakdown that started in the server room at Pier 1. In addition, bad weather also had an impact on the ports in the Eastern Cape, as NCT and GCT were windbound for much of the week. In addition, two vessel movements in Richards Bay on Monday were postponed for six and seven hours, respectively, and three additional vessel movements were postponed on Tuesday as a result of the bad weather. The disastrous effects of the strike have been proven by the sobering reality of the TNPA statistics for October. Bulk cargo and container numbers are drastically declining. The longer-term trend in our industry, which has not increased since 2009, is more concerning. Indeed, compared to bulk freight, which had a GAGR of just 1,9% p/a, container volumes saw a GAGR of only 0,2% p/a.

Key Notes

  • An average of ~8 584 containers was handled per day, with ~8 575 containers projected for next week.
  • Rail cargo handled out of Durban amounted to 2 065 containers, ↓28% compared to last week.
  • TNPA stats for Oct: containers ↓58% (m/m) & ↓42% (y/y), and still down YTD (↓4,7%). Total cargo is ↓23% (m/m) & ↓2% (y/y), as the devasting effects of the strike last month are made abundantly clear.
  • Cross-border queue times were ↑0,7 hours, with transit times ↓0,2 hours, SA borders ~7,4 hours (↑3%).
  • Port congestion currently stands at 2,72 million TEU, ~10,5% of fleet capacity and slightly up ↑0,1% (m/m).
  • Blank sailings remained high this week, hovering around a 13% cancellation rate.
  • The “WCI” decreased for the 38th consecutive week, with spot rates down ↓7% ($182) to $2 591 per 40ft.

Port operations

  • Operationally, South Africa’s commercial ports reported issues around equipment breakdowns and shortages, adverse weather conditions, backlogs, and congestion.
  • All of our national ports experienced a very challenging week as delays impacted port operations throughout the week.
  • A system failure originating in the server room at Pier 1 caused extensive delays earlier this week as all operations, especially on the waterside, were affected.
  • In addition, the Eastern Cape ports were also affected by adverse weather conditions as NCT and GCT were windbound for extended periods throughout the week.
  • Furthermore, in Richards Bay on Monday, two vessel movements were delayed for six and seven hours, respectively, while Tuesday saw another three vessel movements delayed due to adverse weather conditions.
  • The stark reality of the published TNPA stats for October has confirmed the devastating impact of the strike.
  • Container numbers are way down, as is bulk cargo.
  • However, the longer-term trend is more alarming, as our industry has not grown since 2009.
  • Indeed, container volumes have grown at a GAGR of only ↑0,2% p/a, compared to bulk cargo at a mere ↑1,9% p/a .

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