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Transporter Congestion report: Lack of equipment biggest limitation to an efficient Port of Cape Town

The single biggest limitation to the efficient functioning of the Port of Cape Town (PoCT) is the status of the Rubber-Tyred Gantries (RTGs), used to load and offload internal and external trucks, and other operating equipment.

This is according to the Transporter Congestion Report, finalised at the end of May this year, on the causes of truck congestion at the PoCT, commissioned by the Western Cape Government’s Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDAT). The report aimed to better understand factors leading to inefficiencies at the PoCT and to find ways to resolve them.

Other findings include:

  • RTGs standing out of service for long periods, waiting for spare parts.
  • New truck drivers to the Transnet Port Terminal (TPT) did not always know where to drop containers and caused traffic flow problems in the Port area.
  • Night shift only pulls approximately 10% of the traffic and is therefore under-utilised and not cost-effective.
  • Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) security and TPT security operate as two independent systems with limited communication.
  • Handover between shifts is problematic and the procedures could be tightened.
  • The TNPA security does not have access to the list of truckers with bookings and therefore allows access to the port randomly.
  • Scanners at the gate do not always work and access is manually granted, causing delays.

Historically there has been significant capital under-expenditure in the PoCT, leading to substantial inefficiencies.

This was also confirmed by Transnet in a recent presentation to the Western Cape Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Opportunities and Tourism in June this year, where they confirmed that the Cape Town Container Terminal is severely under equipped, with only 16 Rubber-Tyred Gantries available, when the optimal number should be 39.

Some of the recommendations contained in the Transporter Congestion Report to improve the functioning of the PoCT include:

  • Transnet and industry should explore the possibility or opportunity of private investment to accelerate the procurement of new RTGs and/or to assist in procuring critical spare parts for the RTGs as a high priority; and
  • Transnet and industry should explore the possibility of appointing a private service provider to operate the terminal.

As a critical economic node, an efficient and properly equipped PoCT has the potential to contribute an additional R6bn in exports, roughly 20 000 direct and indirect jobs, and over R1.6 billion in additional taxes by 2026, if there is significant investment in key infrastructure.

However, this potential is being compromised and, as is widely accepted and implemented at the Ports of Durban and Ngqura, requires the inclusion of the private sector as a partner in the PoCT to address and remedy the lack of capital expenditure.

Only by including the private sector will the PoCT start to realise its full potential and boost economic growth, which will lead to the creation of many more jobs.

This sentiment is at the heart of the Western Cape Government’s new economic action plan, ‘Growth For Jobs’, which sets a target of building a trillion-rand jobs-rich, inclusive, sustainable, diverse, and resilient provincial economy, that is growing at between 4 and 6 percent per year in real terms by 2035. This has the potential to create over 600 000 jobs.

This is why it is time to bring in the private sector and to work together to achieve the kind of breakout economic growth we need to create thousands of new jobs in the province, and in South Africa.

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