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Cape Town Container Terminal Statement Confirms Dire Situation Highlighted by Transporters

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A transporter recently raised concerns of impending chaos and a potential gridlock at the Cape Town Container Terminal (CTCT) due to the failure of the institution to plan ahead in terms of equipment maintenance or replacement.

The transporter likened the situation at CTCT to the early days of load shedding at Eskom, leaving the South African shipping and logistics community deeply concerned.

In a candid assessment, the unnamed transport insider declared, “What’s happening at Cape Town Container Terminal currently is exactly the same way as how load shedding at Eskom started, of which we have all gotten used to in this new normal way of life every day. They ran those power plants hard without planning for the future, and breakdowns started. At least they are still managing to avoid a total grid collapse.”

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The transporter further elaborated on the dire situation at the port, stating, “At the port every day lately, we’re now being subjected to those stop-and-go stages and levels similar to load shedding.

“But one has to wonder what will eventually happen when all those few remaining operating machines fail all at once because they are now breakdown-prone.”

“Currently, they’re running them hard, overheating, and one by one, they will be dropping into the graveyard. No plans are in place to acquire newer ones, and the ones at the graveyard apparently seem to be beyond repair.”

While it was not a direct response to the transporter, the CTCT, in its equipment status update confirmed that since the end of July 2023, the Terminal has experienced a significant reduction in the availability of Rubber Tyred Gantrys (RTGs) due to major engine failures on 7 RTGs, impacting both waterside and landside operations.

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In the statement, CTCT apologized for the inconvenience caused and assured stakeholders that the its engineering team is working tirelessly alongside the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) to rectify the situation.

Read | TPT urges truck drivers to be more vigilant inside Cape Town Terminals

“Immediate interventions have been initiated to improve equipment availability, including the establishment of a spares supply contract, compatibility testing with new-generation engines, and the installation of new engines on affected RTGs. The refurbishment of additional RTGs and the procurement of more equipment are also in progress.”

“As of the most recent update, 13 RTGs are available for operations, with the 15th RTG expected to be released by September 3, 2023. However, concerns about equipment reliability persist.”

Regarding Ship to Shore (STS) Cranes, the statement indicated that 8 out of 9 are currently available, with plans to commission the 9th crane by September 4, 2023. The CTCT anticipates appointing the OEM as the primary maintenance team for port STS Cranes by October 2023, shifting the responsibility for reliability and availability onto the OEM.

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This update from the Cape Town Container Terminal aims to provide transparency and assurance to customers and stakeholders while acknowledging the challenges faced by the terminal.

The situation remains fluid, and the actions taken in the coming months will determine whether the terminal can successfully avert a crisis and ensure smooth operations in the vital shipping and logistics sector of Cape Town.

The South African shipping and logistics community will be closely monitoring developments at the CTCT, hoping for swift and effective measures to address the equipment issues and prevent a potential gridlock that could disrupt regional and global trade.

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