In the midst of the record citrus export season, Transnet National Ports Authority’s (TNPA's) Nelson Mandela Bay ports have successfully complemented the Port of Cape Town, which was negatively affected by Covid-19, TNPA says.
Apart from handling the citrus fruit at the Port of Port Elizabeth’s (PE's) breakbulk facilities, the two Eastern Cape ports’ container terminals expect to handle more than 460 000 pallets by the end of the fruit season.
TNPA new business development manager Sujit Bhagattjee, together with the Marine Operations and the Harbour Master, spearheaded a request from the shipping lines for fruit to be handled at the PE port’s multipurpose terminal.
This resulted in the perishable products exports control board (PPECB) giving its stamp of approval. The port’s customer-centric and flexible approach accommodated an increased number of vessels handled.
The Port of PE has additionally seen the resurgence of palletised fruit, mainly at the multipurpose terminal, owing to a worldwide shortage of reefer containers and also some of the receiving ports in the world using older technology.
During the Covid-19 pandemic and the citrus export season, the Port Elizabeth Container Terminal has once again proven its strategic importance to the complementary South African container terminal system in supporting the South African economy, said TNPA.
COMPLIANCE AND CAPACITY
“Our Covid-19 compliance and available capacity played a major role in our success. The port firstly addressed the Covid-19 impact by introducing standard operating procedures, granting clearance on a per shipment basis.
"The port had to ensure that the shipping lines, vessel agents and terminal operators are fully compliant in terms of the Covid-19 protocols. This effort has ensured that the Port of PE has not turned away any vessel to date,” says Bhagattjee.
“We also focused on the importance of sound infrastructure, equipment and human capital. These include power and additional plug points in the container terminal, the capacity of the two new mobile cranes as well as the health and safety of our people. TNPA and its terminal operators continued to comply with all standard Covid-19 preventative measures as guided by the Department of Health,” he adds.
The fruit season is expected to continue until the end of September, with the possibility of extension owing to demand from European markets.