By Jacques du Preez
During the past season, logistics, and in particular the functioning of the main ports from where we ship our fruit, have been a huge headache during the initial and further lockdown levels in South Africa and abroad. There has, however, been great improvement in the SA ports since the excessive delays experienced earlier this year.
In order to find best practice solutions, the Hortgro Pome and Hortgro Stone Boards instructed management to work closely with the other fruit exporting industries in this regard. Hortgro has now joined forces with the other fruit industries to address these issues and pro-actively identify ongoing operational risks and to jointly fund capacity to deal with this matter.
Weekly meetings are now taking place with Transnet and the various port stakeholders (the shipping lines, industry associations, cold stores, exporters and freight forwarders/logistical representatives), to collectively and pro-actively deal with these 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.
Frequent reports will be 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.
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. We are cautiously optimistic and excited that the Cape Town port will operate at its best level in many years this coming season.