Durban and Cape Town ports in South Africa are facing a deepening crisis as congestion reaches unprecedented levels, causing significant delays and disruptions to trade routes. Reports indicate that Durban harbour is currently grappling with thousands of stranded containers aboard ships, exacerbating the congestion problem.
Transnet, the State-owned entity responsible for managing the country’s ports, revealed that over 60 ships are currently anchored at the Port of Durban, and it could take anywhere between seven to 15 weeks to clear this backlog. Of the 63 ships destined for Durban, 20 are intended to dock at the Durban Container Terminals (DCT) Pier 1 and Pier 2.
Transnet has taken proactive measures to address the mounting backlog and alleviate the crisis. The company announced on Friday that it expects Pier 1 to clear the backlog within seven weeks using various initiatives, while Pier 2 is projected to take 15 weeks or less. However, the challenges are not limited to Durban alone, as delays have also been reported at the Cape Town Port due to issues within Transnet.
Business Live reports that Cape Town is experiencing delays of up to 14 days in unloading cargo from docked ships. The Danish shipping conglomerate Maersk has decided to remove Cape Town as a port of call, opting to utilise Mauritius instead. Under the new arrangement, all cargo destined for Cape Town will be transhipped in Port Louis, Mauritius, and then transported in smaller shipments to the Cape. Outgoing cargo from Cape Town will undergo the same process.
Maersk further announced that, beginning in the first week of December, the Far East-West Africa (FEW2, FEW3, and FEW6) routes will have updated rotations. Additionally, a new feeder service called Cape Town Express will be introduced, connected to the updated SAFARI service. These changes aim to enhance reliability and transit time, ensuring seamless connections between the Far East and West Africa.
The ongoing delays in Durban and Cape Town are expected to have a significant impact on the upcoming festive season. As the situation develops, stakeholders in the shipping industry and businesses reliant on efficient port operations are closely monitoring the situation for further updates.
Please note that this is a developing story, and additional information may emerge in the coming days.