Transnet authorities are attributing the disruption in the handling of ships docking in the ports of Durban and Richards Bay to the weather.
Following complaints about congestion caused by coal trucks, which resulted in massive traffic jams on the N2 and at the Durban harbour, Transnet revealed the impact of the weather on crane operations.
Currently, there are 63 vessels waiting at sea in Durban to be booked in, and it is estimated that the backlog will only be cleared by February 2024.
Trucks from Mpumalanga coal mines have caused the N2 in eMpangeni to become a waiting station as they wait to enter Richards Bay and unload coal for shipment to Europe.
Cargo ships are reportedly spending around four months at sea waiting to enter the ports, while trucks are parked on the N2 and John Ross Highway for weeks.
Bonginkosi Mabaso from Transnet explained to the SABC’s uKhozi FM that their port equipment is affected by the weather, with work currently disrupted due to recent floods in parts of KZN.
Mabaso stated, “We are planning to purchase new equipment to improve our infrastructure. We are also receiving assistance from the private sector to enhance the performance of our ports and the entire organization.”
He also mentioned that they are working on constructing a 500 km railway line between Gauteng and KZN, which is expected to reduce the number of trucks on the roads.
Meanwhile, in Richards Bay, the City of uMhlathuze has threatened to take legal action against Transnet for not providing a funding model to cover traffic police overtime.
President Cyril Ramaphosa expressed concern about the lack of accountability and proper planning that has contributed to the ports crisis.
During his visit to Richards Bay harbour, Ramaphosa was informed about Transnet’s negotiations with the uMhlathuze Municipality to secure land where trucks can queue safely.
Bongani Gina, Communications Manager for the City of uMhlathuze, confirmed discussions with Transnet regarding land close to the sea, which was originally reserved for Economic Development.