All stops are being pulled out, to make logistics of fruit exports run as smoothly as possible, this season.
Jacques du Preez, Hortgro’s General Manager: Trade and Markets, said that weekly meetings between Transnet and the various port stakeholders (the shipping lines, industry associations, cold stores, exporters, PPECB and freight forwarders/logistical representatives), are still taking place, “to collectively and pro-actively deal with issues”.
“The focus of these meetings are not just on week-to-week operational issues (stack times, gate hours, working hours, productivity, wind, etc.) but are also to address infrastructure and equipment specifically at the Cape Town port.”
Daily reports are distributed to all industry stakeholder to keep everyone informed of the situation in the ports and any potential problems that might arise. The expectation from Transnet is for the industry to keep them updated about the progression of the season and potential bottlenecks that may develop. We haven’t had any significant issues this season and is in a much better position compared to last year, although there is still a lot of room for improvement, Du Preez said.
Amongst others, additional straddle carriers, rubber-tyred gantries and gangs (teams working the vessels) have already been commissioned. Attention is also given to the reefer plug-in points. The new equipment is able to operate at higher wind speeds. There seems to be a real desire from Transnet to improve port efficiency and to deliver a much-improved service. The one positive from COVID-19 upheaval is the way overdue attention and investment the Cape Town port is receiving, Du Preez said.
A couple of hick-ups are still around of which the availability and cost of air freight is one. “There are not many flights available, and those that are, are expensive. Pushing up costs in the value chain.” Shipping delays due to the port being wind bound are also a great concern at this time of the year and Transnet have been urged to implement plans in order to catch up with the loading of vessels after these delays. Regular breakdown and maintenance on aged equipment is another challenge that needs serious attention. Du Preez indicated that they are keeping their proverbial finger on the logistics pulse, and that contingency plans are in place, should further unexpected disruptions occur.