Urgent search for harbour cranes
Jul 8, 2003
SA Port Operations has been given three months in which to find six second-hand quayside gantry cranes to ease congestion at the country’s three container terminals.
The six cranes, costing an estimated R40 million each will be leased as a stopgap measure until permanent cranes, not yet ordered, are received. New cranes can take up to two years for delivery and with Transnet only expected to sign an order for three machines in August, it could be a long wait.
The decision follows a crisis meeting called last week by the Director General of the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE), Eugene Mokeyane, who brought in all the major roleplayers including the Container Lines Operators Forum (CLOF) and SA Port Operations to look for solutions to port congestion.
The meeting sought to address delays that resulted in a surcharge of USD100 per TEU (twenty foot equivalent) being imposed on all containers handled at the ports.
The shortage of infrastructure, principally shoreside cranes has been blamed as the main reason for the ship delays at the ports, but the container lines were also taken to task for not keeping to their allotted scheduled times and for inaccurate information about the number of containers for discharge.
In terms of a set of new ‘operating practices’, the shipping lines will for the first time commit themselves to maintaining their schedules while SA Port Operations has been given three months to source six cranes on a lease basis.
DPE director general Eugene Mokeyane says the initiatives agreed by the parties are designed to correct the situation with minimum delay. “The importance of the various container terminals to the import and export supply chain, and ultimately to the national economy, demands an urgent cross-cutting intervention by ourselves, the Department of Trade & Industry, SA Port Operations and the private sector.”
Several other ‘easy to implement’ operational and process improvements have already been agreed between SAPO, the National Ports Authority, shipping lines and cargo owners and will be implemented by the end of September. These include Service Level Agreements to regulate performance standards.
“We will build sufficient flexibility into the supply chain to resolve the congestion,” promised CLOF representative Captain Dave Rennie, while Colin Schultz of the Western Cape Cargo Owners Association said that tough procedures and processes will be instituted to ensure compliance with agreed procedures.
In 2002 the port of Durban alone handled over R50 billion worth of cargo. The Durban container terminal, which handles 65 % of the country’s total container traffic, is due to come up for concessioning later this year, at which time a private operator is expected to invest many hundreds of millions to improve its infrastructure.