March 28, 2023

Maritime Today Online

latest news and events in maritime and shipping

South African ports resume normal operations as unrest settles

Amid high security and alert, two major African Ports in Durban and Richards Bay are reported to have resumed normal operations after a week of severe disruptions. Over the past three days, as the civil unrest settles in major cities of the country, the halted supply chain is back in action with the return of the workforce.

Transnet, the largest rail, port, and pipeline company in South Africa also reported on Tuesday the resumption of activities at the ports over the weekend. According to Transnet, a total of seven vessels were handled at the terminals of the Richards Bay port whereas six vessels waiting since the beginning of the week were dealt at the Durban port.

Even though the ports were never officially shut down, disruptions hit hard. The riots and unrest broke out as the South African ex-president surrendered himself to police as per court order for not appearing before it in a hearing of corruption charges.

The widespread violence, looting, and vandalization caused suspension of rail operations and public transport, shutdown of warehouses and cold chains as operators declared force majeure. Employees also were unable to report to work due to unusual and hostile circumstances causing congestion at ports.

Even though many images of looting, arson and vandalization on port properties to containers, warehouses and stored cargo went viral on social media, Transnet denied occurence of any such events and declared the images as fake. Transnet has also issued a statement of constant efforts to restore normalcy, it also highlighted the reopening of rail connections in and around Durban, with 42 trains already having transited the region with heavy security since July 16.

Shipping companies like Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd have also acknowledged resumption of operations at both the ports. They have also appealed to customers to take their consignments despite delays to reduce congestion for earliest restoration of normalcy.