SA: Road jams to Durban port cost exporters dearly -

SA: Road jams to Durban port cost exporters dearly

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SA: Road jams to Durban port cost exporters dearly

South African exporters are bracing themselves for major delays within the next few weeks getting fruit to the port of Durban for shipments to Europe.

They are predicting logistical headaches, particularly on the port access points from Bayhead and Langeberg roads when shipments start to peak in week 29.

A Univeg Operations SA representative told congestion on the roads meant a 30km (18 mile) trip from warehouses to the port was taking up to seven hours.

"There are major delays right left and centre. It's making things very difficult because our fruit will get into the market later because containers can't get into the terminal. They must fix it as soon as possible.

"The fruit is getting into the market a week later which is having a great impact on the price. You have to plug in the container somewhere and this costs even more money. At the end of the day the profit you were going to make will no longer be there. It's really tough."

Afrifresh Group logistics manager Anton Garcia agreed there were major jams on Langeberg Road feeding into the Durban Container Terminal (DCT).

"Current work on the Langeberg Road has caused major delays. We have had six to seven hour delays before."

Zest Fruit supply chain manager Rory Netterville, said road congestion was an issue for hauliers and added there were "warning signs" about more problems ahead in the next few weeks.

"The situation is very dynamic. Vessels are starting to struggle, we are seeing a shortage of containers. MOL shipping line hasn't been able to get the equipment to clients fast enough and there have been cancellations. For the last two weeks they have been struggling to get the reefer boxes to exporters. Once you get behind how do you catch up?"

Garcia said that while traffic jams were a problem they could be minimised through careful planning.

"Yes there's congestion, it's how you manage it. We have learnt to pack slower and take the container a little later. We have people at the terminals and we keep a close watch on this."

The Citrus Growers Association (CGA) and the Fresh Produce Exporters Forum (FPEF) are set to meet next week to discuss road congestion, optimization of reefer haulage, new rail developments and berthing upgrades of DCT.

Port operators Transnet have embarked on a five-year upgrade of pier 2 north quay to switch from cargo to container vessels enabling the port to handle 50,000 pallets.

Durban port accounts for 80% of fruit shipments to Europe and 51% of all South African citrus exports leave the port.

Related stories: SA citrus growers press Durban port operator for streamlined service

Photo: Transnet

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