SOUTH AFRICA – Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) has recently sealed a pivotal seven-year deal with four Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to tackle the issue of equipment availability across its terminals, particularly emphasizing the Durban Container Terminal (DCT) Pier 2.

This comprehensive agreement, months in the making, is anticipated to significantly bolster straddle carrier availability by approximately 30% at DCT Pier 2 within the next fortnight.

Earle Peters, the Managing Executive of TPT at the Durban Terminals, affirmed the critical impact of this relief on expediting container offloading from vessels.

Amidst a recovery strategy gaining traction, DCT Pier 2 has pivoted towards amplifying handled volumes per 24-hour cycle.

The team has adeptly factored in variables like inclement weather, ongoing dredging by the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), and the influx of new vessel arrivals into their operational plans.

Peters highlighted the collaborative efforts with shipping lines to prioritize vessels with urgent cargo, ensuring an expedited queue process.

“I would like to acknowledge the workforce’s significant contribution to the current momentum,” he stressed. “The recently signed confinement agreements with OEMs are pivotal to curtailing waiting times for critical handling equipment spares.”

Commencing the development of a parts catalogue and aligning material codes between OEM and TPT systems this week marks a crucial initial step.

OEMs—Kalmar, Liebherr, Kone Cranes, and ZPMC—have already initiated the supply of spares, focusing on a three-month demand list in the Container sector to ensure an uninterrupted bulk supply.

Peters disclosed that TPT required approximately 8,000 distinct material items from each OEM across its sea-cargo and inland terminals, spanning containers, bulk, break bulk, and automotive sectors.

Transnet gets USD 2.5B to meet debt obligations

However, amidst these initiatives, the South African government recently announced a 47-billion-rand (USD 2.5 billion) injection into Transnet.

This financial aid, in the form of a guaranteed mechanism, aims to alleviate Transnet’s impending debt repayments.

The National Treasury emphasized Transnet’s pivotal role in the national economy but acknowledged the operational, financial, and governance challenges it has faced recently.

Despite some improvements in container congestion, challenges persist. Freighters await docking, and while redirections have alleviated some pressure, the need for new equipment remains urgent.

The government’s funding is hoped to alleviate this situation, especially concerning the ageing equipment contributing to congestion and breakdowns at the port of Durban.

Nevertheless, critics, including the Democratic Alliance (DA), question the efficacy of the government’s intervention.

They stress the need to address underlying inefficiencies and fiscal responsibility within Transnet rather than relying solely on financial safety nets.

As South Africa approaches general elections, the issues plaguing Transnet have taken center stage, underscoring the necessity for additional funding to address systemic problems.

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