President Ramaphosa, the Port of Cape Town requires your urgent attention | Western Cape Government

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2021
(Provincial Cabinet, Western Cape Government)
411

President Ramaphosa, the Port of Cape Town requires your urgent attention

21 April 2021

We are encouraged by the recent commitment made by President Cyril Ramaphosa to make our ports more efficient and competitive and his recent visit to the Port of Durban.

However, we are also concerned that the Port of Cape Town may be deprioritised in the overall strategy going forward, given the extensive focus on the Port of Durban.   

And so we have written to President Ramaphosa highlighting the current challenges facing the Port of Cape Town and requested that he schedule an urgent visit to assess the challenges, and the measures being put in place to address those challenges in the Port of Cape Town.

The ports of Durban, Richards Bay, Gqeberha and Mossel Bay, are being prioritised for significant short term infrastructure investments. 

For example, the Port of Durban will receive significant infrastructure investment in the short term (1-2 years), including:

  • 16 Rubber Tyre Gantries replaced at the Durban Pier 1 Container Terminal; and
  • Straddle Carrier Replacements at the Durban Pier 2 Container Terminal.

President Ramaphosa has also indicated that they will be exploring partnerships with the private sector to bring new investment, technology and expertise to port operations and to modernise equipment and infrastructure, announcing that Transnet is planning “to advertise a concession later this year to build and operate the new Point Terminal” at Durban Port.

This investment and the partnerships with the private sector are a huge step forward, however we are concerned that the Port of Cape Town will not see any infrastructure investments in the short term, and there is no mention of similar private sector partnerships in relation to the Port of Cape Town.

We are also concerned that that the Port of Cape Town may be deprioritised in the overall strategy going forward, given the extensive focus on the Port of Durban.   

The Port of Cape Town is a critical infrastructure asset and, if leveraged to its full potential, could serve as a catalyst for economic growth and recovery for South Africa, but it continues to face multiple challenges primarily due to inadequate maintenance and investment in equipment. 

In the 2020/21 financial year, there were approximately 5 064 incidents of equipment breakdown across all three shifts at the Port of Cape Town, which is approximately 14 breakdowns per day.  The root cause of these breakdowns is largely attributed to the equipment reaching its mid-life. 

Every time there is a breakdown, it means that there are operational delays, which in turn have knock-on effects across the entire port supply chain, adding to berthing times and truck turn-around times. The general issue of slow service has also caused shipping lines to stop calling to the Port of Cape Town.  

The Western Cape government established a Port Task Team, which has brought together stakeholders from across the port logistics value chain to find solutions to the challenges facing the Port of Cape Town. And while this Task Team has achieved a number of successes to date, in the important area of infrastructure investment, there is little that this group can do unless national government intervenes.  

Growing exports is a key pillar of our strategy for economic growth and recovery, but to achieve this, we require a world-class Port of Cape Town. 

I’m grateful to all in the port logistics supply chain, including Transnet Port Terminals management, who have shown commitment to working collaboratively to find solutions to these challenges, but our ability to increase exports will continue to be constrained unless we urgently address the infrastructure challenges at the Port of Cape Town.

We have, therefore, written to President Cyril Ramaphosa highlighting the current challenges facing the Port of Cape Town and request that he schedule an urgent visit to assess the challenges and the measures being put in place to address those challenges in the Port of Cape Town.

Listen to soundbyte from Minister David Maynier:

* Note that the information on investment at the ports of Durban, Richards Bay, Gqeberha and Mossel Bay, as well as the data on the breakdowns at the Port of Cape Town was made public by the Department of Public Enterprise in response to parliamentary questions which can be downloaded here and here

Media Enquiries: 

Francine Higham
Spokesperson for the Provincial Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities
(Responsible for the Provincial Treasury and the Department of Economic Development and Tourism)
Cell: 071 087 5150
Email: francine.higham@westerncape.gov.za