OperationsPorts and Logistics

Durban port gradually restarts operations after floods

South Africa’s logistics group Transnet gradually resumed operations at its Durban port on Wednesday morning after severe flooding in KwaZulu-Natal province, which resulted in port operations being suspended as a precautionary measure.

The country’s department of public enterprises (DPE) said it is working with Transnet and stakeholders, including the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government, eThekwini municipality and the country’s power utility Eskom to stabilise operations at the port. 

Priority interventions include repairing Bayhead Road, which is the main access to the container terminals at the port and Island View, and investigating alternative access roads into the port while a section that was washed away at the outfall of the Umhlathuzana canal into the port is being repaired.

“Shipping is expected to resume once safety has been established for marine craft and vessel navigation,” DPE said in a statement.

“As a precautionary measure, operations across the terminals have been temporarily stopped. A command center has been set up with Transnet National Ports Authority, the operators and our customers to monitor the activities. Before full operations can resume, we will need to ensure that all the necessary safety inspections have been conducted,” added Transnet spokeswoman Ayanda Shezi.

Meanwhile, Transnet is carrying out ongoing assessments on the rail network in Durban and its surrounds to determine the extent of damage before any train services into and out of the port can resume. The North Coast, South Coast and mainline from Durban to Pietermaritzburg remain closed. There has been no damage to the pipelines infrastructure, and fuel supply will continue into the inland market. 

Transnet’s operations in Richards Bay have not been suspended, but the “terminals are operating less efficiently, with challenges experienced in handling wet cargo,” the statement said.

The heaviest rainfall in at least six decades in KwaZulu-Natal has claimed more than 300 lives, damaged roads, interrupted port operations, and washed away houses. The head of South Africa’s national disaster management centre Mmaphaka Tau has declared the flood-stricken province a disaster, enabling the government to provide relief funding for the reconstruction of the area.

Adis Ajdin

Adis is an experienced news reporter with a background in finance, media and education. He has written across the spectrum of offshore energy and ocean industries for many years and is a member of International Federation of Journalists. Previously he had written for Navingo media group titles including Offshore Energy, Subsea World News and Marine Energy.
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