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Similar to last week, the strike action—which has, thankfully, come to an end—is the main topic of conversation this week. However, since clearing the backlog will be a huge and difficult task, the reality is that the main job won’t begin until now. Apart from the effects of the strike, port operations were hampered as we gradually resumed full operations by equipment shortages and breakdowns, adverse weather, backlogs, and congestion. As soon as UNTU and SATAWU approved Transnet’s most recent salary offer, the strike that had been in place came to an end, and operations at the majority of our national ports resumed quite normally. Additionally, the Eastern Cape ports faced unfavorable weather conditions in the latter part of the week, which caused significant delays, while the rest of our ports were afflicted by equipment failures and shortages. Additionally, the crane situation in Durban is a constant source of worry, and Transnet announced that the Durban helicopter should begin operating on the night shift in November. The cargo terminal in Cape Town was immediately closed once the strike ended because of the South Easter.

Key Notes: 

  • The strike’s cumulative impact has rung up a logistics cost of ~R7 billion, as goods worth R65,3 billion stood idle, with a significant portion likely never to be recovered. As operations gradually return to some semblance of normality, the industry is set to recover by early 2023, barring any further disasters. The estimated wage increase of a mere R1,5 billion is insignificant by comparison with the damage inflicted.
  • An average of ~1 703 containers was handled per day, with ~8 160 containers projected for next week
  • Rail cargo handled out of Durban amounted to 491 containers, ↑21% compared to last week.
  • Cross-border queue times were ↓1,1 hours, with transit times ↓24 hours, SA borders ~7,5 hours (↓75%).
  • TNPA stats for Sept: containers ↑14% (m/m) & ↑1% (y/y), but still down YTD (↓1%). Total cargo is ↑35% (m/m) & ↓1% (y/y), mainly due to reductions in the bulk sectors – a worrying number for our BoP.
  • The “WCI” decreased for the 34th consecutive week, with spot rates down ↓3% ($100) to $3 383 per 40ft.

Port operations – General:

  • As with last week, this week’s central talking point revolves around the strike action, which has fortunately ended.
  • However, the reality is that the real work will only start now, as clearing the backlog will be a significant and challenging undertaking.
  • Apart from the strike’s impact, port operations were characterised by equipment breakdowns and shortages, adverse weather conditions, backlogs, and congestion as we slowly began to return to full operations.
  • Operations at most of our national ports returned to some sort of normality as both UNTU and SATAWU accepted Transnet’s latest wage offer, concluding the strike action that took place.
  • In addition, the Eastern Cape ports experienced adverse weather conditions during the latter stages of the week, leading to extensive delays, while equipment breakdowns and shortages plagued the rest of our ports.
  • Furthermore, the crane situation in Durban is continuously a cause of concern, while Transnet reported that the Durban helicopter should start conducting night shift operations from November onwards.
  • No sooner had the strike come to an end than the South Easter started blowing in Cape Town, closing the container terminal there.

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