The Cape Town port might be positioned along one of the world’s busiest trade routes, but recent logistical and other challenges are now forcing authorities to consider moving its cargo port to Saldanha on the West Coast.
This follows after many sleepless nights about high winds on the Foreshore often preventing container vessels from berthing in the current container dock. Now, the city of Cape Town has proposed an alternative to address frequent delays in exports and imports from and into the Western Cape.
Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for transport, Felicity Purchase, says she requested a meeting with Portnet, the National Ports Authority, to discuss the proposed move to Saldanha.
Since last year, exporters of agricultural goods who are dependent on the shipping industry for its survival, have suffered major financial losses due to port issues. These issues are said to have hampered the growth of the local economy.
Explore viable alternatives
Dr John Purchase, chief executive of Agbiz, tells Food For Mzansi while port problems continue in the Mother City, viable alternatives must be explored.
“Port capacity and congestion are huge constraints to our fruit exporters and we do need to start looking at viable alternatives, with the emphasis on viable.
“So, detailed cost-benefit and impact assessment studies are necessary to support a business case for such a move for producers, agents, service providers, exporters, shipping lines, etc.”
Meanwhile challenges on the Cape Town harbour are mainly impacting shipping routes to the Middle and the Far East.
Exciting news for fruit exporters
There has also been a shortage of containers globally due to the high demand for dry good goods that are mainly driven by online purchases. This resulted in shipping costs increasing. Experts say while there are enough containers in the world, the problem is that it does not always pass via Mzansi.
Jacques du Preez, Hortgro’s general manager for trade and markets, says they welcome any initiative to address the issues around shipping delays, specifically at the Cape Town port.
“Transnet has already implemented new processes to increase productivity in the Cape Town port, but we still urgently need replacements for the fleet of old equipment,” he says.
Du Preez adds that high winds in Cape Town is not something that will go away.
Last week, Hortgro was trucking fruit to the Eastern Cape to get onto vessels, specifically the Middle and Far-Eastern routes. “So, the prospects of developing the Saldanha port to cater for fruit exports is an exciting and very welcome initiative.”