KZN floods: Durban port clogged with debris, faces backlog of 8 000 containers - Gordhan

accreditation
President Cyril Ramaphosa during an earlier oversight visit to the Durban Port.
President Cyril Ramaphosa during an earlier oversight visit to the Durban Port.
KZN GCIS/Supplied

  • The Durban port has been reopened after severe rainfall and flooding last week.
  • Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan says backlogs still need to be cleared at ports and that considerable damage to the rail network linked to the port needs to be repaired. 
  • Gordhan estimates that between 8 000 to 9 000 containers have accumulated at the port because trucks could not reach the harbour areas. 


Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan said while Transnet has managed to gradually increase access to its Durban port terminals after severe flooding in KwaZulu-Natal, some backlogs in the area will take well over a week to clear.

Gordhan was speaking to reporters at Durban's port on Tuesday afternoon after conducting an assessment of the damage caused to the area by flooding.

Heavy rain last week forced Transnet to suspend operations at the Durban port as a precaution. The port has since reopened. Gordhan said backlogs still needed to be cleared at ports and that considerable damage to the rail network linked to the port needed to be repaired.

Gordhan said the western railway line between eThekwini and Cato Ridge was heavily damaged and that Transnet's team was working to resolve this.

Parts of the rail network has been hit by mudslides and collapse of embankments. The foundation below stretches of up to 100 metres in railway line have fallen away and need to be filled up again with sand, says Transnet managing executive for container terminals from Gauteng to Durban Rudzani Ligege.

Meanwhile, Gordhan estimated that between 8 000 to 9 000 containers have accumulated at the port because trucks could not reach the harbour areas. This should also be cleared in the next nine days.

Gordhan said due to the flooding, logs and other debris ended up in the harbour, which disrupted shipping.

"Since Wednesday last week, they have had to use all kinds of equipment to dredge the harbour and remove materials from the harbour," Gordhan said.

"When we look at the harbour in the future, we need to find ways of ensuring that debris that does not come in and disrupt the harbour. As things stand, we have 40 ships incoming and going and that number continues to grow each day," he said.

The minister said Transnet was able to respond to consumers' need for fuel by using the Bluff area near the port. Trucks were allowed to move through Bluff to access to Island View, where the petrochemical facilities are located.

"There is no risk of fuel shortage as far as that is concerned and the pipeline is now functional," said Gordhan.

Trade, Industry, Competition, and Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel said businesses in the region remained concerned about access to infrastructure, supply chain blockages, and disruptions to work due to safety risk for employees.

"A lot of work has been done to get port facilities up and running. That process enables companies to have some assurance that their goods will come in through the ports and leave through the ports," said Patel.

Gordhan said the department expected and updated report on Wednesday about the remaining backlogs, with projections for how soon they can be cleared.

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