Frustrarted truck drivers again spent hours gridlocked, waiting to enter Durban Harbour through Bayhead Road, as the queues snaked all the way back to Rossburgh.
Port officials said parts of the Island View storage terminal, at the end of Bayhead Road, were closed from early Sunday until Monday afternoon because of weekend flash floods.
However, those in the freight and logistics industry said they did not know what to believe because they had heard several other reasons for the congestion.
Sue Moodley, chairwoman of the Durban Harbour Carriers Association, said one of these was tipper trucks entering the terminal had caused a delay.
“The logistics industry is supposed to be the economic driver of the province, and the port is the gateway to KZN. With the inefficiencies daily, we cannot grow the logistics sector of the province,” she said.
“Durban Port has an infrastructure which is not suited to the current economic climate of the province. The port handles far larger volumes of imports and exports that when the port initially opened. Transnet Port Authority needs to work quickly with the municipality to upgrade the current road infrastructure so that trucks flow seamlessly in and out of the port.”
Durban Port manager, Moshe Motlohi, said the severe congestion in the Bayhead area was caused by flooding at Bulk Connections – a specialist bulk handling facility privately owned by Bidvest – after the heavy downpour at the weekend.
“This flooding affected the private terminal operators’ truck stacking area and impacted on its ability to process vehicles throughout Sunday,” Motlohi said.
She said Bulk Connections handled more than 3 million tons of free-flowing or semi-free-flowing bulk commodities a year, including coal and maize.
The flooding had prevented trucks from loading or off-loading cargo until the water had been pumped out.
Traffic, mainly huge trucks, on Monday snaked back through into Umbilo Road and Solomon Mahlangu (Edwin Swales) Drive towards the N2 freeway.
Durban Container Terminal spokeswoman, Faith Chetty, said the arrangements were for the traffic authorities to move trucks into Ambrose Park and Pier One’s New Stacking Area.
“Pier One and Two communicate with the shipping lines about cargo storage extensions. Import storage extensions were granted,” she said.
A disgruntled freight and logistics operator, who did not want to be named, said he had been receiving various messages about the cause of the congestion since Saturday.
The congestion, he said, became worse on Monday.
“We were told that the crane operators had poor visibility and rough weather at Pier One on Sunday. We were also informed that two rubber tyre gantries had problems and were being repaired at this pier.”
“Also, at one stage they had an intermittent power failure in the container terminal. There are many probabilities. My driver informed me that there were no machines working on Sunday to load and offload trucks. What do you believe?” he asked.
A source said that Durban terminal was gearing up for 6 000 imports between Monday and Sunday, meaning transporters had been urged to pick up their imports.
On the ground at midday on Monday, air horns blared and truck engines revved as some frustrated truck drivers tried to urge their jammed-up colleagues in front to move forward.
Opposite the King Edward VIII Hospital, in Sydney Road, the Daily News counted 25 trucks occupying the left lane waiting to enter Bayhead Road bridge.
In Umbilo Road, some truck drivers were driving over low pavements and overtaking to try to jump the queues.
At one area of Umbilo Road, six lanes were occupied by trucks.
Metro police said the line of trucks stretched as far as Rossburgh towards the N2 freeway and Clairwood junction.
The vehicle access to the Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine in Glastonbury Place was blocked. Motorists and staff had to use another entrance.
Some truck drivers said they had been in traffic from 9am, slowly moving from Rossburgh towards Bayhead.
Trucks were carrying all sorts of cargo, machinery and chemicals. Some trailers were empty suggesting that they were going to pick up loads.
A freight operator who spoke to the Daily News anonymously said he parked his three trucks at his depot after hearing about the congestion.
He had been scheduled to load and offload containers, but did not want the extra cost of diesel and salaries to make his business run at a loss.
Metro police spokesman, Sbonelo Mchunu, said police were on the scene, trying to alleviate the traffic snarl-up.
He said motorists and trucks that broke any by-laws or caused gridlocks on the road were being fined accordingly.
“By Monday afternoon, traffic began to move freely due to close collaboration between the Transnet Port Authority, the terminal operator and the eThekwini traffic department,” Motlohi said.