South African port operator Transnet on Sunday said it had obtained a court interdict to stop the 'illegal strike action' by its employees at the Ngqura Container Terminal (NCT) in the Eastern Cape.
The order by the Labor Court in Port Elizabeth also orders all workers to increase performance levels at the terminal, which has been hit by a ‘go-slow’ two weeks ago.
Along with these issues, the citrus industry has also complained its export operations have been severely impacted by low crane and cold storage capacity, as well as low container availability. Almost a quarter of the industry's shipments depart through the Ngqura Container Terminal and the nearby Port Elizabeth Container Terminal (PECT).
According to Transnet, operations had been disrupted by "malicious radio interference". But it added that since the suspension of 11 employees last week, radio interference has stopped and operational performance has "improved".
Operations at the Durban Container Terminal and Cape Town Container Terminal have also improved, it said.
Transnet adds that it is "aware of the challenges that this has caused to various industries across the country".
“We are working around the clock to find solutions, including prioritizing urgent cargo. We are also continuing to refine our contingency plans in order to minimize the impact to the economy,” Mohammed Mahomedy, Transnet Acting Group Chief Executive said.
Last week, Hannes de Waal, CEO of the Sundays River Citrus Company, told FreshFruitPortal.com he estimated that the “enormous delays” are costing the region around 50-100 million rand (US$3.5 – 7 million) per week. He added that if the situation did not improve soon there would be "a lot of damage".