Recovery in logistics sector continued in April despite ports being lashed by storms – Ctrack index

12th June 2024

By: Irma Venter

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


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After declining in the first two months of the year, the Ctrack Transport and Freight Index (Ctrack TFI) continued its momentum in April to reach a level of 123.4 – an increase of 2.8% compared with March.

This is also 1.5% above the levels seen a year ago.

Except for two subsectors that declined – sea freight, and storage and warehousing – activity in all other subsectors advanced on a monthly basis, led by notable increases in air freight and road freight.

Similarly, compared with a year earlier, four subsectors increased during April, while only the road freight and pipeline transport subsectors declined.

The heavily weighted road freight subsector – which has jumped in recent years and now accounts for 83.6% of all freight payload in South Africa – recovered in April.

This is the sector’s second consecutive positive month following a downward trend that lasted almost a year.

Road freight increased by 4.5% on a monthly basis in April versus 1.2% in March.

Heavy vehicle traffic on both the N3 and N4 toll routes (class 3 and 4 trucks) increased in April by 2.9% and 14.5% month on month (m/m), respectively.

Heavy vehicle traffic on the N4 toll route spiked in March (+47.4% m/m) given that trucks were forbidden to travel on the R36 Bambi-Mashishing route owing to the poor condition of the road.

On top of that, renewed trouble at South African ports resulted in additional traffic on the N4 as trucks rediverted towards the Port of Maputo.

Most notably, the Durban port saw a 25% drop in container-handling during April, and similarly for other cargo-handling, partly owing to adverse weather conditions.

Sea Freight Storm
Following four consecutive months of growth, April turned out to be a horrendous month for the sea freight subsector, notes the Ctrack TFI report.

A combination of poor weather, equipment breakdowns and a system failure dominated port operations during April.

At the Port of Cape Town, nature’s effect was particularly impactful, as more than 60 operational hours were lost in the second week of the month, while equipment breakdowns, a system failure and adverse weather constituted the majority of delays in Durban.

Elsewhere, stormy conditions also lashed the ports of East London and Gqeberha.

Overall, for all ports in South Africa, the number of containers that landed dropped by 17.9% m/m, and worse, the number of containers shipped dropped by 32.5% during April.

Other cargo handled (excluding vehicles) also declined by 11.6% in April.

Given that these declines were largely owing to adverse weather conditions, activity has bounced back in subsequent weeks.

Year-to-date sea-freight is still up by 5.4% on the corresponding period last year.

Sea freight remains one of the main focus areas of South Africa’s structural reform efforts and some of the shorter-term interventions at ports are starting to bear fruit, notes the Ctrack TFI report.

The air freight subsector of the index increased by 7.1% in April, following an increase of 4.4% in March, reaching the highest index level on record.

On a quarterly basis, the air freight subsector is up by 13.1%, contributing handsomely to the overall logistical sector recovery, states the TFI report.

The rail freight subsector continues its “very gradual recovery”, increasing by 0.3% m/m in April, followed by 1.2% m/m in March, only partially recovering from a weak January and February.

For the first four months of the year, rail freight increased by 3.4% compared with the corresponding period last year.

The storage and handling subsector of the Ctrack TFI declined further, by 0.8%, on a monthly basis in April, but remains 9.5% above year-ago levels.

Lastly, the transport of liquid fuels via Transnet Pipelines increased by 0.6% m/m in April, but still declined by 1.3% and 0.5% on a quarterly and yearly basis, respectively, held back by a sluggish domestic economy.


Edited by Creamer Media Reporter



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