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Richards Bay Port says it ‘may’ halt trucks carrying cargo to the port; RFA outraged

image of the port of Richards Bay

The port of Richards Bay

17th November 2023

By: Irma Venter

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

     

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Richards Bay Transnet Port Terminals (RCB TPT) says it “may” suspend the processing of trucks bringing cargo into its terminals by road.

Only trucks whose vessels have been already nominated shall be processed, says Transnet regional corporate affairs manager Msawakhe Mayisela.

This follows as rail services to Richards Bay – also under the purview of State-owned rail and ports operator Transnet – have been steadily declining to the point of nonperformance.

The truck suspension is being implemented “in the interest of public safety on the roads in the uMhlathuze local municipality”, notes Mayisela.

“An urgent meeting with customers and all relevant stakeholders will be held soon to discuss the new developments. RCB TPT regrets the inconvenience caused.”

Mayisela’s statement comes as Transnet yesterday – on November 16 – issued a notice to its customers saying there had indeed been a “suspension of road motor transport, due to truck congestion on public roads”.

“The road congestion in Richards Bay has reached uncontrollable levels, such that the safety of road users within the city has been at risk for months since the increase in truck traffic volumes.”

According to the notice, issued by RCB TPT terminals managing executive Thulasizwe Dlamini, the Umhlathuze local council has warned of legal action against Transnet on the back of the sharp increase in truck traffic and subsequent mushrooming of make-shift staging areas caused by trucks waiting to enter the port.

“In our last engagement with the city manager on Tuesday, 15th of November, he advised that the city will be instituting legal action against the Port of Richards Bay.

“…Even when trucks have been booked, the tempo at which the trucks arrive at port gates at a particular time of day sometimes far exceeds the tempo in which trucks can be processed at the permit offices, as well as at the terminal stockpiles. 

“This leads to a buildup of trucks outside the port gates on surrounding roads and on the N2,” writes Dlamini.

“The City of Umhlathuze does not have a truck-staging area that can accommodate [this] volume of trucks.

“The port itself was not designed for this amount of trucks. This gives rise to a logistics nightmare in and around the port.”

Dlamini says this leaves the terminal operator with “no choice but to immediately freeze all vessel nominations for vessels that bring in cargo via road transport”.

Dlamini then also suggests that the only alternative is for the private sector “to propose a far more superior traffic management solution that could create order in Richards Bay and completely eliminate the staging of trucks on the N2, almost immediately; a solution that ensures the safety of road users and a solution that does not require the deployment of law enforcement personnel to manage trucks on the N2”.

According to the notice, the urgent meeting to address the problem has been set for all affected stakeholders for November 21.

RFA Outraged
Road Freight Association (RFA) CEO Gavin Kelly says Transnet’s answer to truck congestion should not be to close the Richards Bay port because it “cannot efficiently and sustainably do the work required”.

“You are killing the country!

“The first question to ask Transnet, as well as President Cyril Ramaphosa, is why road congestion in Richards Bay has ‘reached uncontrollable levels’?”

“Simply put – the rail infrastructure has been allowed to decay and collapse. 

“That lies squarely at the feet of Transnet; those given the accountability and responsibility to ensure Transnet is properly run and managed; and, ultimately, the president.”

Kelly says the RFA has “a very clear proposal: Give the ports and the railways to private sector. 

“Let us run these efficiently and sustainably. The promises of concession of port terminals and access to rail have all evaporated. Empty promises!

“Logistics is a private sector game. Decent and good competition is required to ensure we move goods (and even people) along the corridors of our country,” notes Kelly.

 

 

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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