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Durban port decongestion task team to focus on long-term initiatives in the new year

15th December 2021

By: Schalk Burger

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

     

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The multidisciplinary, multi-stakeholder Port of Durban Decongestion Task Team will focus on rolling out a number of long-term initiatives as more permanent solutions to the ongoing challenges experienced at the port, State-owned ports agency Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) said on December 15.

The task team had, over the past two years, made progress in reducing congestion on Bayhead road and ensuring improved port efficiency.

Further, with improving container terminal efficiencies being a priority, TNPA recently took delivery of 23 Kalmar and 22 ZPMC straddles, with these integrated into the Pier 2 Container Terminal operations.

Further, the Flexi Interchange Zone (ITZ) initiative was also successfully piloted and has now gone live. This system will enable volume smoothing where truck volumes will be distributed across the ITZs in order to improve truck turnaround time.

The task team plans to partner with research institutions and innovation hubs to address the recent inclement weather challenges experienced in the port.

Additionally, the task team has also engaged with property developers around the city to look into land parcels outside of the port at which trucks destined for the Maydon Wharf precinct can be staged and make use of truck stop facilities. This will aid in reducing truck traffic congestion on busy roads around the port, said TNPA Eastern Region managing executive Moshe Motlohi.

“We are working with the private sector and the municipality in finding a staging facility for trucks destined for the Maydon Wharf precinct and this facility will be an enabler for a truck calling system into the precinct.”

Further, the workstream to ensure depots around the port environment are able to operate 24/7 and aligned with the operating hours of the terminals, including off-peak hours, such as weekends and after normal working hours, is still implementing solutions that can accommodate cargo that has landed and needs to be shifted 24/7.

Meanwhile, the port access road projects are also progressing, following the signing of a memorandum of agreement between TNPA and the eThekwini municipality for the development of a second access road to the port, which will connect Island View and the Container Depots from Langeberg road to Edwin Swales and to the old airport site.

“TNPA and the task team are pushing hard to progress the proposed widening of Bayhead road to three lanes, in the hope that this project can be completed by the end of 2022,” Motlohi said.

Further, mandatory truck booking systems have been introduced to govern the number of trucks per hour to be processed in the port based on available capacity. The mandatory truck appointment system, which allows truck owners to book a slot at the terminals prior to arriving at the port, was fully handed over to Transnet Port Terminals’ Pier 1 and Pier 2 container terminals operations.

“While challenges are being noted during the system implementation, the mandatory truck booking system has reached a state of maturity. It has also been evident that the booking system may not operate in isolation of a robust equipment availability and reliability programme.

“Learning from the Port of Durban, it is also important to note that Cape Town’s container and multipurpose terminals have rolled out the mandatory truck appointment system, with Richards Bay also in the pipeline to adopt accordingly,” he said.

Meanwhile, private terminals have also done well, with Grindrod, FPT and the Bulk Terminal introducing booking systems that are working efficiently. The Port of Durban task team is currently working with Bidvest, which is at an advanced stage of setting up its off-site staging facility and running its own booking system.

“In 2022 and beyond, the Port of Durban Decongestion Task Team will focus on creating future rail and port capacity, as well as ancillary trucking operational facilities to grow market share, improve road traffic compliance and prevent traffic congestion and intersection gridlocks around the port.”

Motlohi said he would continue to mobilise the industry, forge relationships and collaborate with stakeholders of the Richards Bay port to help deal with challenges faced by TNPA customers in the region.

“The task team's purpose was to arrest the decline in the efficiency of the port system, which we believe we have achieved, and to stabilise the port system and look to improve it,” he said.

Multi-stakeholder engagements took place to understand and track operations over the past 24 hours and look at the next 24-hour period. These engagements enabled the task team to identify issues to be solved immediately, and those requiring external support, such as procurement of equipment and refinement of procurement and maintenance processes, which are then escalated to the relevant decision makers.

“All role players in the port system over the past two years, whether inside or outside the port, have acknowledged stakeholders' interconnectivity and interdependence,” Motlohi said.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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