Cape Town port delays

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The ripple effects of the National Lockdown that was implemented end March are still being felt in business today. The supply chain continues to struggle with the backlogs and delays from the lockdown while many industries are starting to rebuild their businesses.


One of the conditions for lockdown was to reduce the capacity at our harbours to practise social distancing while still providing an essential service. Skeleton shifts and only a few berths being made available caused havoc with incoming vessels and cargo. Cape Town was hardest hit, with only a single berth being allowed to operate. Our national harbours usually collectively see around 200 container moves per ship working hour under normal conditions.


The shortage of gangs has affected the turnaround time of port operations, impacting the time taken to complete berthed vessels and the schedule of vessels being allowed to berth, creating a bottleneck for containers. Although some berths have reopened since lockdown, severe delays continue.

With port operations slowed, vessels aren’t able to dock timeously which results in additional costs for the lines. With the citrus season at its peak, the shipping lines are reliant on steady port operations. As a result, some shipping lines are opting to omit Cape Town ports on certain schedules and are only offering services via Durban and Coega, which have not had as much delays.


Some shipping lines have also planned for Cape Town imports to be discharged from Coega from where they will be feedered to Cape Town.  Cape Town exports (mainly dry exports) will be feedered to Port Elizabeth to connect. We have also received notifications for GRI’s (General Rate Increases) being implemented especially for cargo destined to Cape Town.


We will advise of surcharges at time of shipment as and when they become available.

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