Port of Cape Town cargo area.

THE South Africa Ports Regulator has rejected the National Ports Authority’s application for tariff increases averaging 5.9% and said no increase was justified, underlining the point by decreasing some tariffs. The decision was welcomed by the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry as it has long campaigned for lower port costs.

“We still have the situation where our ports are the most expensive in the world, but the Ports Regulator is doing a good job in standing up to the NPA’s demands for further increases,” states Janine Myburgh, President of the Chamber.

“Unfortunately we also have a situation where Transnet is trying to undo the Regulator’s good work with massive increases on Port Terminal costs, the one area that lies outside the control of the regulator.”

Earlier this year Transnet Port Terminals announced a 9% increase in its tariffs, a figure well above the inflation rate.

Myburgh said Transnet’s manoeuvring should be seen against the background of an earlier study by the Ports Regulator that found that port costs faced by cargo owners in South Africa at the time were 874% higher than the global average.

“The regulator is now trying to correct this situation and deserves the support of commerce and the maritime industries. In fact, we would like to see the regulator’s authority extended to cover all fees and tariffs charged by all the components of Transnet’s ports empire,” Myburgh said.

In addition to the 0% increase in cargo dues there will be a 10% decrease in export container fees. From April the volume discount for car exporters will be scrapped and all car exporters, regardless of volume, will receive the 60% discount.

The Chamber was pleased to see that cargo dues on the first five million tons of maize imported would be slashed by 50%.

“The country is facing the consequences of severe drought and measures like this will bring some relief and are to be welcomed,” Myburgh concludes.

The only increase approved is a 3% increase in marine services, which are paid by the shipping lines, and will impact on cargo owners to some extent, but is not felt to be unreasonable.