Winds hamper Durban port operations

Aug 26, 2003
Author: P&S

Strong winds have played havoc with operations at the Durban Container Terminal, with approximately 79 hours having been lost for the month of August to date.

The terminal has had to stop operations on nine separate occasions after winds exceeded the safe level for normal working. In addition the port itself has closed on a number of occasions because of adverse weather or sea conditions, further exacerbating the situation.

This week the terminal is operating with an expected average delay to ships waiting outside port of between 45 and 50 hours.

“Although the winds delays are beyond our control, we regret any delays that are being experienced and we are doing everything we can to keep up productivity and reduce delays as fast as possible,” said Themba Gwala, SA Port Operations General Manager Durban.

SA Port Operations advised that a wind procedure is in place at the Durban Container Terminal, which for safety reasons was strictly adhered to. The gantry cranes are programmed to warn the operator by means of a light that blinks when the wind reaches a speed of 70 km/h. The crane operator then performs his tasks of loading and unloading containers more carefully than under low wind conditions.

However, the warning light will stay on and a buzzer will beep when a wind speed of 80 km/h is reached. The cranes then move into a stow position and the wind will be monitored half hourly, with work only commencing once the wind has dropped to a consistent level of below 80 km/h.

The high winds experienced during August this year are abnormal for Durban with the city’s ‘windy months’ usually being late September and October into November. Unfortunately this coincides with the container terminal’s traditional busy period when peak volumes are normally achieved.

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