SOUTH AFRICA’s citrus export season is progressing amid COVID-19 challenges according to Transnet Port Terminals (TPT), with new equipment soon to boost operations across the Port Elizabeth, Durban and the Ngqura
TPT has prepared for a 13% increase in citrus volumes this year. The Citrus Growers Association’s (CGA) attributed this year’s growth to new orchards coming into production and good rain across some regions. “We remain confident in servicing industry well despite the impact of the global pandemic. The fruit industry has remained a focus since the beginning of citrus season last month,” said Siyabulela Mhlaluka, General Manager: Sales and New Business Development at TPT. He added that the workforce has worked since the begining of lockdown.
Season preparations require sufficient plug points across all container terminals as well as human capital. “We have made provision for additional plug points to ensure reefer handling, leasing generator packs as back up in some areas of the business,” said Mhlaluka.
Earlier constraints resulted in the container terminals across TPT operating at an average of 75% capacity. The available numbers were impacted by a number of employees with chronic medical conditions, compromised immune systems and those that were 60 years and above, in line with the special measures implemented arising from the government regulations.
The Port Elizabeth’s two new mobile harbour cranes have been commissioned and handed over to operations. Equally, Durban Container Terminal (DCT) Pier 2 would have taken delivery of 23 of its 45 new straddle carriers from the end of July. “Regular industry engagements and integrated planning leaves us optimistic. The guided levels of operation over Level 5 cannot be isolated. Over a two-month period, the Level 5 lockdown regulations restricted the movement of cargo,” said Mhlaluka, adding that it was now all systems go.
The current R2 billion investments in replacement equipment will see an additional four rubber-tyred gantry cranes for CTCT arriving in November this year. A total of 22 additional straddle carriers will be delivered to DCT Pier 2 in December and two rubber-tyred gantry cranes for DCT Pier 1 in the same period. “We have a robust plan for replacing equipment across our terminals through to 2024 and as we have promised to industry, we are tracking according to plan”.
South Africa ranks 16th in terms of world fruit production; accounting for over 50% of the country’s overall agricultural exports, according to Fruits SA. This is a total contribution of about R43 billion annually to the country’s Gross Domestic Product.