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This past week’s South African port operations were characterised by equipment breakdowns and shortages, congestion, and adverse weather that resulted in high swells and lengthy periods of vessel ranging. Global supply chains on the other hand have found some breathing room, resulting in certain supply chain pressures easing, thanks to a decrease in consumer demand for goods and a continued decline in shipping rates. However, the risks of continued China shutdowns and gas rationing in Europe loom. As a result, it appears that the industry experience of global supply chains will continue to be characterised by disruptions, particularly in the container market, where shipping lines are utilising tactical blanking in their schedules to offset declining demand, declining rates, and reduced vessel utilisation. Because of this, container throughput has decreased in major trades like Asia to Europe while remaining artificially high. The upside of this is that ports can use the opportunity to reduce congestion and clear backlogs.

Key Notes:

  • An average of ~8 020 containers was handled per day, with ~8 997 containers projected for next week.
  • Rail cargo handled out of Durban amounted to 2 349 containers, ↑38% compared to last week.
  • Stats SA shows land transport (payload) increased by ↑26,4% (y/y) in July 2022; income at ↑32,9% (y/y).
  • Cross-border queue times were ↓0,7 hours, with transit times ↓2,6 hours, SA borders ~20 hours (↑186%).
  • Economic stagflation is getting contagious, as average global inflation hovers around 7% (SA now @7,6%).
  • The top 20 ports container throughput for 2022 H1 was ~↑0,8% (y/y); Durban @↓6,2%, CT @↑6,0%.
  • The “WCI” dropped for the 30th consecutive week, with spot rates down by ↓10% ($470) to $4 472 per 40ft.
  • Over the last month, air cargo yields have stagnated, while chargeable weight continues to decline (↓4%).

Port operations – General :

  • Port operations this past week were characterised by equipment breakdowns and shortages,
    congestion and adverse weather conditions leading to high swells and lengthy periods of vessel ranging.
  • In particular, vessel ranging was experienced on the CMA CGM Nabucco in Cape Town, which
    started approximately at 17:00 on Tuesday and persisted throughout the most significant part
    of Wednesday.
  • In addition, this week, Transnet advised that the second set of shore tensioners for the port of
    Cape Town was loaded on the MSC Eugenia with ETA at Coega on 1 October 2022.
  • Furthermore, in Durban, employee engagements are set to occur across all shifts on Monday,
    26 September, which could cause slight delays in operations.

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