Hortgro, SATI, FPEF, Berries ZA, CGA, and Western Cape Government held a planning/pre- season meeting with the Western Cape Management team of Transnet Port Terminals (TPT), Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) as well as representation from the Transnet National office on 1 September 2023.
Various matters were discussed and commitments were made relating to more equipment, on-site maintenance capacity and spares, and productivity matters to improve throughput in the port.
Amongst others, Transnet committed to:
Supply Chain Integration:
- Full integration and synchronizing of all role players to optimize the 24/7 service offerings of the port.
- Belcon Logistics Hub Development in process: Integrated working group (TPT, TFR, TNPA, Industry & Maersk).
- Accelerate equipment replacement • Rubber-Tyred Gantries (RTGs) • Haulers
- Spares supply.
- OEM Partnerships to shorten lead times of parts and mechanical services.
- Support from Transnet Engineering to maintain equipment (spares, haulers)Implementation by the end of September – deadlines will be monitored closely.
- Remote working: to improve efficiency and working in high winds (Feasibility study finalised).
- Third Shore Tensioner set required (expected by March 2024).
- World Bank – Implementation of recommendations with regard to productivityimprovements are ongoing.
Key focus areas for the upcoming season, as presented by Transnet
Equipment Improvement Initiatives
As an industry body, Hortgro has limited operational control over these plans but will continue to push, motivate, lobby, and monitor as hard as we can for the promised interventions to come to fruition. Logistics is the single biggest current threat to the industry’s sustainability.
In addition to this, Hortgro is also part of the collective fruit industry grouping trying to convince a major additional shipping line to service South African ports to create additional capacity and competition.
Growers, exporters, and their logistical service providers have been, and are actively encouraged to collectively discuss short term solutions such as moving export volumes out of the peak weeks (1-10) from the Cape Town Container Terminal to alternative shipping options/modes.
The wind will blow during January and February which will result in shipping delays. And with the good winter behind us, we are expecting increases in all fruit exports. The alternative options include the use of Eastern Cape ports, Walvis Bay, smaller container vessels at the Multi-Purpose Terminal, Specialized Bulk Reefer Vessels and optimal 24-hour use of the port.
Each of these options has an additional cost implication, but the risk of arriving late at the market and having quality issues far outweighs these additional costs. These remain commercial decisions that are in the ambit of producers, exporters, and other service providers.
Stone fruit growers are also urged to manage volumes through the reduction of smaller sized fruit, considering the good winter experience and adequate irrigation water supply. There is no quick fix or silver bullet. We will collectively have to deploy several actions over the short term.