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Palesa Phili - Delays at The Port of Durban

The Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry NPC is deeply concerned about the recent delays at the Port of Durban leading to an estimated 35000 containers stuck at sea. As organised business, we believe this delay is due to lack equipment maintenance, failure to buy equipment and run the straddles, stacks, and tugs effectively. Furthermore, the lack of maintenance and ageing equipment continues to disturb port operations. The Port of Durban is one of the busiest in Africa, but it is also one of the most congested. In 2017 the Port of Durban had about 112 straddles operating, since then the situation has deteriorated.

Recent delays at the Port of Durban are impacting negatively on the economy

As organised business, we have closely monitored the situation. Since January, this year we have seen an exponential increase in delayed hours. In January, the delay was 39 hours, July 96 hours. August 194 hours and September 364 hours. This is unacceptable, businesses must bear the brunt of these delays.


The delays are costing the shipping companies an estimated R7 million, resulting in job losses and leading to a negative economic impact across crucial economic value chains and sectors. Our members in the clothing and textile sector, automotive sector and producers of major appliances have been stuck for the past 12 days. We need tangible reforms to turn around Transnet.


Continued delays are resulting in added lead times and delaying the supply of essential goods and services. As we approach the festive season, businesses especially SMMEs are dependent on their stock to service customers.


Furthermore, cargo arriving during this time of the year are time sensitive, failure to land the goods on time in stores will result in retailers carrying deadstock leading to unplanned losses.


As organised business we are requesting the following:

  • Chambers, businesses including the shipping lines to be on the National Logistics Crisis Committee.

  • We believe this will allow the private sector to present tangible solutions. Merely using desktop solutions will not work.

  • As organised business we are opposing the privatisation of the container terminal. Shipping lines have made an offer to government to buy the equipment needed to fix Transnet over the long term and recoup their investment through relaxed surcharges.


The appointment of an independent engineering consulting firm with strong project and programme management expertise to run the equipment.


The Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry NPC believes we do not have the leisure of fixing the port within 18-24 months, we need an immediate solution. We need private sector partnerships. As organised business, we believe the shipping lines and Transnet must enter into a joint agreement allowing the shipping lines to buy the necessary equipment and rebuild infrastructure. Through this investment private sector must be given an opportunity to recoup their investment through the relaxation of tariffs.


For more info, contact the Durban Chamber on 031 335 1000 or


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