Operational synergies between Hortgro, Transnet, port stakeholders and other fruit exporting industries have resulted in noticeable improvements at South Africa’s stressed ports, especially in Cape Town.
Various role players have pooled resources to respond proactively to a number of logistical headaches which plagued the functioning of the main ports during the past season.
In the last few months, excessive delays were experienced from where Mzansi’s fruit shipments are made. Huge hindrances occurred during the initial and further covid-19 lockdown restrictions in the country and abroad.
There has, however, been great development since, and issues are being addressed while ongoing operational risks continue to be identified. Food For Mzansi has learnt that Hortgro and other role players are now working to jointly fund capacity in order to deal with these matters.
According to Jacques du Preez, Hortgro’s general manager for trade and markets, weekly meetings with Transnet and various port stakeholders have delivered positive and desired results.
Du Preez maintains that communications channels between Transnet and the various port stakeholders are “open, transparent and timeous in a fast-paced business where time is of the utmost essence.”
The focus of these meetings are not just on week-to-week operational issues (such as stack times and gate hours), but also seeks to address infrastructure and equipment, specifically at the Cape Town port.
“We inform Transnet of the season’s progress, potential risks and challenges and vice versa. It makes planning on both sides so much better. All parties are working together for the better of the industries, ports, economy and ultimately job creation in a very depressed economy,” Du Preez explains.
He adds that efficiency measured in relation to labour and operations has also been adequately addressed.
‘Cape Town port to operate at top levels soon’
Furthermore, equipment like straddle carriers and rubber-tyred gantries have already been addressed to better conditions at the Cape Town port. Attention is also given to the reefer plug-in points and the new equipment is able to operate at higher wind speeds.
Reefer plug-in points are found on reefer containers which simply refers to big fridges that are used to transport temperature controlled cargoes such food and non-food products.
Du Preez tells Food For Mzansi, “There are further improvements relating to labour, training, equipment, infrastructure and logistics in the planning over the medium and longer term as well.”
According to a recent media statement by Hortgro, they are cautiously optimistic and excited that the Cape Town port will operate at its best level in many years this coming season.
The expectation from Transnet is for the industry to keep them updated about the progression of the season and potential bottlenecks that may develop.
Hortgro has subsequently vowed to distribute frequent reports on the status of the port to all industry stakeholder to keep everyone informed of any potential problems that might arise.