Port congestion delays citrus out of South Africa

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Port congestion delays citrus out of South Africa

The Citrus Growers' Association (CGA) of Southern Africa expressed concern Thursday that congestion at the port in Durban could delay orange exports. Logistics development manager Mitchell Brooke said cold storage facilities at the port are generally full or at high capacity.citrus mix ffp

"I have been advised that shipping through Durban earlier this week has not been sufficient enough to make way for Valencia railings entering Durban," Brooke said in the CGA newsletter.

"This has resulted in capacity constraints and will no doubt resort to truck bottlenecks and delays for the remainder of the week."

At the time of Brooke's comments, there was no reported overflow of trucks arriving to the port, but the situation was subject to change. Brooke cited scheduling issues as a major cause for the anticipated congestion.

"The high level of container exporters in Durban is adding excessive pressure at cold stores and this is resulting in their inability to attain the required load out rates.

"This results in carryover of stock to the following week’s vessel and so on. I have been in a position to identify that the Durban Container Terminal stack dates are not planned in a manner that assists to create an even demand throughout the week."

"On a weekly basis we see high demand areas in the middle of the week where up to 10 vessel stacks open simultaneously over a 3 day period in the middle of the week. This means that the cold stores are required to load out all the planned containers in a space of 3 to 4 days; this is not achievable by any means."

Brooke met with Transnet Port Terminals and Durban Container Terminal to discuss scheduling issues for reefer stacks. He outlined three main reasons for congestion.

"Containers arrive in numbers at the facilities and this causes congestion at the entrance areas," he said.

"Internal operations are intensified by high levels of container packing thus prohibiting effective operations to stow fruit into the chambers making way for inbound railings."

He said there were also protocol violations causing truck and inspector delays at facilities.

"This pressure all culminates into an ineffective situation. If we can lessen the container load out pressure and spread the work load through effective stack planning, this should assist and allow the railing of citrus to be received more efficiently," he said.

Under the current circumstances, he said exporters do not want to send citrus to Durban, or they are charging higher rates to go there.

"There is a general outcry from packhouses in the northern territories regarding the lack of transport in the region, resulting in consignments being held on the packhouse floor as of last week already. I’ve heard that some packhouses have as many as 30 consignments waiting to be railed to port," he said.

He called for concern regarding the port situation and asked that pack houses and exporters maintain clear communication to avoid further delays.

To date, citrus export volume was up compared to 2012. In week 32, 61.2 million cartons had been shipped compared to 57.4 million in 2012. A total 71.4 million cartons had been packed to date.


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