In line with government’s implementation of a three-week lockdown of the country to reduce the spread of the Covid-19 virus, State-owned entity Transnet will be scaling down its transportation services and operations of non-essential cargo during this period.
After consultation with various stakeholders, Transnet has prioritised various operations and commodities, some of which include that of Transnet Port Terminals, Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) and Transnet Freight Rail (TFR).
Transnet Port Terminals, which manages port terminals responsible for the movement of cargo to and from vessels, has reduced staff at most of the terminals, except for the essential agri-bulk product terminals.
Some of the agri-bulk products include soya bean meal, fertiliser and woodchips, which will be serviced on single-berth operations in East London, Richards Bay and Durban.
Break-bulk terminals will also function on single-berth operation to handle essential break-bulk goods and containers. Break-bulk commodities will be handled at the ports of Cape Town, Richards Bay and Durban.
Multipurpose terminals at the ports of East London, Saldanha, Port Elizabeth and Maydon Wharf in Durban will be closed.
All automotive terminals have also been closed.
All containers bringing essential goods into the country will be serviced using single-berth facilities in some ports, and the Durban Container Terminals (DCT) Pier 2 will operate only two berths on a reduced staff complement.
Other container terminals including the Nqgura, Cape Town, Cape Town multipurpose terminal and Port Elizabeth will operate on a single berth.
All bulk terminals, which handle mineral mining commodities, will be scheduled as per demand from mining customers, subject to approval by the Department of Public Enterprises and Department of Mineral Resources and Energy.
All ports managed by TNPA, which is the ports authority that provides port infrastructure to facilitate imports and exports of essential products through the servicing of vessels, will remain open.
Only port control, maritime service, safety, security and health services will be prioritised and manned at all times.
TFR, meanwhile, will continue to transport coal to power utility Eskom’s power stations.
Only on-route high-value trains and trains with perishable foods, as well as trains with sensitive goods, have been prioritised, considering that their loads were being transported prior to the start of the lockdown.
Other rail operations during the lockdown will be provided under essential services, enabling products, commodities to neighbouring countries and strategic partners or non-essential services.
Essential services comprise fuel, containers, timber, chemical products, agricultural products, coal for hospitals and power generation. Transnet’s health train, Phelophepa will also remain operational.
The following critical inland container terminals will be operational: City Deep on day shift for seven days, other inland terminals including Kascon, Pretcon and Belcon to be opened Monday to Friday only. The Vaalcon, Bayhead, Catcon, Lohatla, Bloemcon, Deal Party, Kaalfontein and Isipingo inland terminals will be closed.
Under the enabling products banner, Transnet will continue to transport coal as long as there is demand and availability of the coal railway line. The Ogies to Richards Bay and Centracor (Mafikeng to Gauteng) coal line will service lime/limestone for water purification and power generation. These railway lines will also transport soda ash and salt.
The flow of goods to and from Botswana, Zimbabwe, Maputo, Namibia, Lesotho and eSwatini will be serviced through a number of railway lines to ensure movement of essential goods to neighbouring countries, Transnet said on March 27.
All transportation of nonessential services through the rail network, including the operation of the Blue Train, have been suspended with immediate effect.
Additionally, Transnet Pipelines, which handles the country’s fuel supply from the coast to the mainland, biggest depots – including Alrode, Waltloo and Witbank – will remain operational. The pipeline’s Jameson Park terminal in Heidelberg has available stock for supply of security in Gauteng and surrounding towns.
Transnet said that security at all the depots will remain unchanged.