"In furthering our vision of being a logistics partner to the shipping industry we developed an interactive Internet facility that we hope will become a must-visit site and a leading source of information for the industry," said SAPO CEO Tau Morwe at last month's launch.
The site offers an on-line container track-and-trace ability; daily stack dates and import-free storage expiry dates; an e-marketplace for shippers, carriers, brokers and clearing and forwarding agents; discussion forums; productivity levels and performance charts for the various SAPO terminals; advertising space for customers and suppliers including a classified section; a directory listing facility for the entire port industry; and CEO announcements and SAPO news feeds. SAPO intends to expand the Website, creating an elite network of online business-to-business links.
As the new site will act as a hub of information providing businesses within the shipping industry with direct access to one another, users will need to register on-line, especially to access container-tracking information and trade on the e-market facility. At the moment there is no registration fee but registration is necessary to ensure secure access to private information.
Morwe said he believed the maritime industry needed a forum where issues relevant to it could be discussed – hence the inclusion of a chat-room where topics will be driven by Saponet or industry. "In the near future we will expand the site to include our open tender board, which we believe will be of great value," he said. He added that, with time, the site would also provide benefits to ships' chandlers, the bunker market, maritime insurance, legal, engineering and finance professions, stevedoring, marine and cargo surveying and storage companies.