A newly introduced truck booking system near the Port of Durban has helped to alleviate truck congestion in the Bayhead Precinct and surrounding roads.
Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) explains in a statement that a private bulk terminal in the Island View Precinct introduced the off-site truck staffing facility earlier this month.
TNPA extended its own truck booking system to the Durban multipurpose terminal (MPT) earlier this month as well, which is the third terminal to come on board after Durban Container Terminal Pier 2 and Pier 1.
Durban Container Terminal Pier 2 has also deployed more straddle carriers into operation to improve handling at the terminal and to help reduce vessel and truck terminal dwell times.
The Durban MPT booking system enables transporters to book delivery slots 48 hours in advance or cancel a booking two hours prior to the time slot, while a private bulk terminal’s truck staging facility at the Old Durban Airport south of Durban requires trucks to be pre-processed before calling at the port.
Truck appointment systems are being implemented to alleviate truck congestion in roads surrounding the port and are among the initiatives being spearheaded by the Port of Durban Decongestion Task Team.
The Port of Durban Decongestion Task Team involves a broad range of private and public sector organisations involved in the port.
Port of Durban GM Moshe Motlohi says there have been positive results since the activation of an interim staging facility at the airport. In the first week of September, the port had no queues, while access to the facility and hit rate for the booked slots have improved.
The bulk staging facility accommodates between 90 and 100 trucks at any given time.
No bulk tipper truck will be permitted directly into the terminal or port precinct without a booking reference for each day and a sticker on the windscreen. Each customer is allocated a number of trucks per day as per the terminal’s operations and shipping plan.
Motlohi notes that this process allows the terminal to call in trucks in manageable batches, which helps to alleviate congestion on Bayhead road.
In recent weeks, TNPA, through forums including the Port of Durban Decongestion Task Team and the port’s daily virtual operations meeting with all stakeholders, has escalated calls for all businesses in the port to revise their protocols around giving early warnings of any business disruptions.
This ensures that others who might be affected by the after-effects of such disruptions can be alerted.
A joint planning meeting was also held with businesses in the Cutler Complex on August 20 at which the management of the complex committed to getting their users to implement their own booking system.
“In the next three months, we hope to have 80% of the port having adopted a truck booking system,” Motlohi says.
He adds that there is a lot of work still to be done in this space but, through Transnet’s collaborative approach with stakeholders, he remains optimistic, while working on the TNPA port’s over-arching booking system.
“We hope that, ultimately, we will realise the benefit of having a broader booking system where trucks will be regulated in this fashion.
“The deployment of efficient and reliable fleet together with the mandatory appointment system will result in better port efficiencies,” states Motlohi.
Since late 2019, the decongestion task team has been collaborating on efforts to alleviate congestion in the port’s surrounding road networks, which negatively impact communities.
Through nine targeted workstreams, the task team has adopted an integrated approach to tackle the root causes of Bayhead traffic related congestion and to ensure improved coordination, planning, operations, cargo flows and capacity.
Meanwhile, TNPA signed a memorandum of agreement with the eThekwini municipality earlier this month, which paves the way for construction of a second port access road to Bayhead and Island View, which will further contribute to improving efficiencies in the area.