Western Cape government calls on Gordhan to rescue Cape Town Port from Covid-19 carnage

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An overview of Cape Town port and docks area looking to Table Bay harbour and the west coast.
An overview of Cape Town port and docks area looking to Table Bay harbour and the west coast.
Peter Titmuss/Education Images/Universal Images Gr
  • Western Cape Provincial Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, David Maynier, has called on Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan to resolve operational challenges at the port of Cape Town.
  • Multiple shipping lines either cancelled their calls to Cape Town or plan to impose a Cape Town congestion surcharge from July.
  • Maynier says large volumes of citrus exports are being redirected to Eastern Cape ports to ensure to continuity in supply to markets.


The Western Cape Provincial Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, David Maynier, has called for Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan to urgently provide resources to resolve the current operational challenges at the port of Cape Town.

Maynier said in a statement that in recent months a number of restrictions had been placed on business operations and port activity. Some vessels were now waiting outside the port for weeks at a time before getting an opportunity to berth.

The statement comes after multiple shipping lines either cancelled their calls to Cape Town or planned on imposing a Cape Town congestion surcharge from July, he said. 

Maynier said he has written a letter to the minister of public enterprises, requesting a meeting with him and the Transnet management team that oversees the port.

"We urgently need national government to address the operational inefficiencies which are leading to significant delays, further increasing the number of teams operating to get all cranes working in the port, and to address the structural challenges, providing a sufficient equipment fleet over the short to medium-term to get the service level required to meet importer exporter needs," Maynier said.

Large volumes of citrus exports are being redirected to Eastern Cape ports to ensure to continuity in supply to markets, he said. 

"The challenges at the port of Cape Town are well-documented, but with the further impact of Covid-19 infections, service levels have further deteriorated since the beginning of April - two weeks ago the service level was only 42% of the average for last year in terms of containers moved," Maynier said.

In April, Transnet Port Terminals has said its various port utilities were only half as busy as during the coronavirus lockdown, as various logistics sub-sectors experienced a drop in demand for their services.

Transnet, in a statement on Tuesday, said it would be getting more staff for the port. 

“Despite all the challenges, we have been able to reduce the number of vessels waiting at anchorage from 11 vessels to 5 vessels today. We have managed to increase the number of gangs from four to five and now are receiving additional staff to help with shifts,” said Velile Dube, acting chief operations officer at Transnet Port Terminals. 

Dube said 20 employees from the Durban Container Terminal had volunteered to be deployed to the container and the multi-purpose terminals at the Port Of Cape Town.

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