Agri SA warned yesterday that “urgent and focused action” was needed to make sure that farmers get their product to market despite widespread flood damage in KwaZulu-Natal.
“Agri SA is deeply saddened by the recent flooding in KwaZulu-Natal and other parts of the country,” the organisation said in a statement. “The loss of life and property has caused enormous pain and suffering, and we extend our condolences to those who have lost loved ones.”
It welcomed the declaration of a national disaster as this will help free up much-needed resources to help address the extensive damage to infrastructure.
“Government needs to prioritise road repair and access to a functioning port as top priorities to limit supply chain disruptions. If there are any unnecessary delays in this regard, then it will have a knock-on effect that could lead to job losses and possible shortages of agricultural products.”
Agri SA and its provincial affiliation, Kwanalu, undertook to assist government wherever they can, especially to help make sure that the Durban port is fully functional again as soon as possible. “Already, backlogs have developed, and this is particularly serious for the export of perishable agricultural products, which need to be properly stored and transported.
“Agri SA will continue to support Kwanalu in its efforts to monitor and assess the situation and will do everything possible to help mitigate the damage that has been experienced by the sector as a result of the catastrophic floods.”
Transnet supplies update on port operations
The overall performance of the Durban port continues to improve, according to South Africa’s national ports operator Transnet.
Following a visit by public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan and trade, industry and competition minister Ebrahim Patel, Transnet said that its marine capacity currently stands at 98%, while Bayhead Road as the main access route is carrying one-lane traffic both into and away from the port terminals.
“In the next two weeks, the two additional lanes will be stabilised for more efficient traffic flow. In the long term, the canal bridge will be opened up, along with the widening of the entire Bayhead Road. The next phase of the port’s rehabilitation is expected to be completed at the end of April, and the long-term solution is expected to be completed over the next 12 months.”
Apart from emergency efforts to revive cargo movement, a clean-up of debris and pollution is also underway, and cargo owners have been requested to prioritise the evacuation of their containers to clear space inside the terminals.
“The port is critical for the stability of the South African economy, and Transnet will continue to work with all customers and industry to ensure that the logistics chain is enabled, in the interests of the economy,” Transnet ended its update. “It is in all our interests to ensure that the port of Durban is supported and enabled to be the hub port that it can be for the region.”
Farmers warned of another scam
The national department of agriculture, land reform and rural development warned farmers not to fall for scammers posing as minister Thoko Didiza. The minister has received several complaints about her so-called communication with members of the public, promising them funding from the European Union or from the department.
“The minsiter pleads with members of the public to be aware of fake Facebook posts of her promising them funding and, in return, requesting money.
“The Minister would never communicate government help through her personal social media pages. The help will only be communicated through departmental platforms. Most importantly, the minister would never request any monetary reward.”
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