This morning WoSA, along with Vinpro and Salba, with the assistance of AgriSA, engaged in meaningful dialogue with a number of team members from Transnet Port Terminals and their newly appointed Chief Executive, Mr Velile Dube.
According to communication to the members of WoSA and Vinpro, one of the key messages that came out of the discussions were that collaboration is key in these unprecedented times. Transnet recognises that the port terminals are the beginning and end of supply chains and they are instilling the importance of taking responsibility into their workers.
“It is clear that no one anticipated the full impact that Covid-19 would have on our ports. Many of the workers at the Cape Town port terminal have co-morbidities and the way the terminals are set up, it is very difficult to maintain social distancing. Even seemingly simple actions like shift changes of operators without social contact is in fact a major task.
We have however been assured that gangs have been increased from 2 to 6, which are operating around the clock (24/7). They anticipate 7 gangs to be operational by November 2020, if all goes according to plan. New machinery has been put in place with the delivery of 4 new straddle-carriers and new DAV drivers are being recruited, while existing workers are being trained in order to promote cross-skilling, which means that workers will have more flexibility in terms of their offering, however equipment maintenance has been somewhat challenging, but is being addressed as well.
They have applied a screening system, which screens employees at the beginning and end of each shift in order to prevent further spread of the virus. For the first time in the history of Transnet Port Terminals, workers have volunteered their assistance without expecting additional compensation, traveling from a different part of the country in order to assist at Cape Town Port.
In terms of vessels waiting to berth, it was confirmed that at its peak, there were up to 11 vessels waiting in Table Bay. This is now down to five vessels and while they were hopeful to have eliminated this bundling by the end of July, recent storms have added to the burden. They are positive that this will get back on track now that the storm has passed.
AgriSA requested that the force majeure which has been implemented at the Cape Town Port Terminal be lifted, allowing the full complement of shipping lines to call at the port. Transnet Port Terminals agreed that this would be lifted as soon as the terminal had sufficient resources which could guarantee the schedule integrity required in terms of the berthing window contracts. This is being closely monitored and will be lifted as soon as practically possible. It was noted, with optimism, that the surcharge which a shipping line had levied in Cape Town had been withdrawn, further reflecting the improving status of the port terminal.
We do feel positive that the issues at the Cape Town Port Terminal are being addressed and are heartened by efforts shown by Transnet management in this regard, which should have the desired effect on the large shipping liners re-introducing Cape Town to their itineraries. Please see a presentation that highlights the various efforts employed to improve the situation at our sea ports.
With regards to the current shortage of 20’ flex-grand containers, in a separate discussion with JF Hillebrand Country Director, Johan Coetzer, confirmed that there were currently 140 of the 20’ flex-grand containers which are now available and felt positive that the situation in this regard will improve towards the end of the week as stock was coming in ‘in drips and drabs’.
As always, we will continue to keep you in the loop of any further major developments in this regard and hope that you share our optimism.”
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