TRANSNET National Ports Authority (TNPA) said today a terminal operator at its Richards Bay facility had been shut down leading to congestion of truck deliveries.
The operator had been served with a non-compliance stop work certificate on July 13 related to “environmental management issues”. A spokesperson for TNPA said there was no timeline as yet when the operator would be reinstated.
The operator works in the dry bulk and multi purpose terminals as well as other facilities at Richards Bay. The terminals handle dry bulk ores and other minerals which it loads to Cape size and panamax vessels.
TNPA has asked transporters to halt truck deliveries to the port in the meantime. TNPA said it was working “tirelessly” to mitigate port congestion.
In a letter signed by Moshe Motlohi, one of its managing executives, TNPA warned customers of “a potential increase in traffic congestion” at Richards Bay.
Said Motlohi: “Transporters are encouraged to halt from dispatching trucks to the Port of Richards Bay until the terminal operator complies with the conditions of the certificate … All stakeholders are implored to exercise the highest level of caution in and around the port, especially during peak hours”.
Thungela Resources, one of South Africa’s largest coal exporters, said its sales had not been affected by the action. Another coal operator said Richards Bay Coal Terminal was not affected.
The delivery of minerals for export to South Africa’s ports has been under the microscope over the past few years amid a deterioration in volumes. The Minerals Council estimated South Africa lost about R30bn in coal export revenue last year on Transnet inefficiency.
“We know that only about 20% of the lost tonnages were due to cable theft and electricity disruptions on the coal rail corridor,” said the council’s chief economist Henk Langenhoven. “The bulk of the explanation lies with inefficiencies on rail and in the ports.”
Transnet, which is owned by the South African government, said that acts of vandalism and theft had left it helpless to meet previous years’ volumes in coal and chrome. The problems have been extended to iron ore and manganese which has seen less disruption in the past.
In January, the Minerals Council formed committees with Transnet aimed at improving the performance of chrome, coal, iron ore and manganese deliveries.