State-owned freight utility Transnet has reported a productive start to the year at the Durban Container Terminal (DCT), which boasted positive records and milestones, including the handling of 190 000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in February, a 57% improvement in shift change, an increase to 75.5 ship working hours and 4 000 trucks handled in one day – compared with the previous average of 2 500.
“All improvements are testament to Transnet’s combined efforts to improve operational performance – through its Port Terminals (TPT), National Ports Authority (TNPA) and Freight Rail operating divisions,” said TPT GM Julani Dube.
He added that collaboration between the divisions had been integral to DCT’s success and record volumes in February. Transnet has tackled issues such as decongestion of the Bayhead area and the implementation of new systems and structures to improve operations across landside, water and rail.
“There is still room for improvement, but February’s performance is indicative that if we continue on this path, we can reach our target of being among the top five terminal operations in five years’ time,” lamented Dube.
DCT – Africa’s biggest and busiest container terminal – was plagued by many operational issues and allegations of bribery in 2016. Since then, Dube stated, there have been initiatives and projects implemented which started with formulating the first-ever landslide planning department within TPT – the Bayhead Decongestion Forum – in early-2017.
This forum is crucial to monitoring and identifying solutions to tackle congestion and, ultimately, improving truck turnaround times for stakeholders involved including local depots, transport companies, deliveries and truck owners, TPT, TNPA and Durban Metro.
“The forum is where ideas about revising the DCT truck staging area came into play, that has since helped mitigate any opportunity for bribery, as well as implementing a horizontal truck release system to further improve staging times,” explained Dube.
TNPA Port of Durban manager Moshe Motlohi added that the work done by Transnet to improve the overall operations at DCT had not gone unnoticed by the industry.
“The truckers’ association has acknowledged that it has witnessed a 66% to 68% improvement; there are no more queues in Bayhead road,” he noted.
Meanwhile, working closely over the past few months with one of DCT’s biggest customers, Maersk Shipping Lines, TPT and TNPA were able to pilot and implement nine different projects at DCT Pier 2 with the intention of improving vessel turnaround times.
Dube confirmed that most of the nine projects had been deployed and the success of these initiatives had led to some exciting results with the further intention of rolling out these same solutions and learnings at DCT Pier 1 and other TPT terminals across the country.
“We have been able to refocus our energy on implementing the nine major projects in partnership with Maersk, with the result being that some of their latest vessels to have departed from DCT recorded ship working hours of up to 75.5.”