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As usual this week, bad weather, numerous equipment failures and shortages, power outages, load-shedding, delays, and congestion characterized port operations. This week, Cape Town’s weather issue somewhat atoned for itself because there were few reported delays because of the bad weather. Yet in Durban, a widespread power outage and unfavorable weather conditions took center stage and caused operating delays. Moreover, East London noted that stage 6 loadshedding was a constant challenge because the port is only immune from load-shedding up to stage 5. Finally, a number of cable theft incidents were recorded throughout the week, particularly between Thursday and Friday, preventing any trains from transporting cargo to or from Durban. Last but not least, the most recent “Land Transport Survey” from Stats SA revealed that national rail and road freight splits have shifted more in favor of the latter (85/15), as rail’s issues persist unabatedly.

Key Notes :

  • An average of ~7 253 containers was handled per day, with ~7 824 containers projected for next week.
  • TNPA stats for January: containers are down by ↓7% (m/m) and ↓11% (y/y), whereas total cargo is down by ↓1% (m/m) and ↓7% (y/y). Vehicles trade remains the only bright spot, up by ↑70% (y/y) and is projected to increase by ↑8% to 380 900 this year.
  • Rail cargo handled out of Durban amounted to 1 935 containers, ↓33% compared to last week.
  • Cross-border queue times were ↓1,5 hours, with transit times ↓1,6 hours, SA borders ~9,9 hours (↓12%).
  • Global freight rates continue to fall, as the “WCI” is down by ↓3% ($57) this week to $1 898 per 40 ft.
  • Air cargo has stabilised with tonnage (↑3%), capacity (↑3%) and yield (↑2%) all up vs two weeks ago.

Port operations – General :

  • This week, port operations were characterised as usual by adverse weather, frequent equipment breakdowns and shortages, power outages, load-shedding, delays, and congestion.
  • The weather situation in Cape Town redeemed itself to some extent this week, as minimal delays were reported due to adverse weather.
  • However, an area-wide power failure accompanied by unfavourable weather conditions took centre stage in Durban and ensured operational delays.
  • In addition, East London reported that there was a continuous struggle with stage 6 loadshedding as the port is only exempted from load-shedding up to stage 5.
  • Finally, several Instances of cable theft were reported throughout the week – especially between Thursday and Friday – which ensured that no trains could convey cargo to and from Durban.
  • Lastly, Stats SA’s latest “Land Transport Survey” indicated that the split between national rail and road cargo moved further in favour of road (85/15) as rail’s problems continue unabated.

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