A key figure in South Africa’s citrus industry has criticised delays and poor productivity at Durban Container Terminal (DCT).
The Citrus Growers Association’s logistics development manager Mitchell Brooke made the comments to specialist fresh produce buyer magazine Fruitnet.
“Industrial action, equipment failure and poor planning, amongst others, led to very poor productivity. The wheels fell off the bus last year, but this year not only did the wheels fall off, but the bus overturned,” he said.
Brooke added that this had caused truck congestion at the terminal gates, vessel delays and disruption to schedules.
He compared DCT unfavourably to the Port of Algeciras, which he recently visited. “In Spain, a typical vessel handling 6,000 teu takes roughly 36 hours to complete. DCT is taking up to five days to do the same, if we consider the experience we had with the Maersk Safari service, Durban’s biggest carrier.”
He added that a number of vessels had avoided Durban in favour of Ngqura, a newer terminal about 800 km south-west of Durban.
However, this influx of reefer container terminals overwhelmed Ngqura and reefers had to be sent back to Durban on feeder vessels.
As both Durban and Ngqura are operated by state-owned Transnet, Brooke said that it was citrus producers rather than the terminal operators who paid the price for these mistakes.
Durban is South Africa’s largest container terminal with a capacity of just over 3m teu.