On Friday, 20 January 2023, Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, Mireille Wenger, hosted the fourth annual Port Stakeholder Engagement, bringing together representatives from across the port logistics value chain, experts in maritime transport as well as the senior leadership of Transnet.
A key theme that emerged during the discussions was the need to explore appropriate models for private sector participation at ports in the Western Cape to improve efficiencies and stimulate economic growth and job creation.
Opening the engagement, Minister Wenger said: “The key to the success of the Port of Cape Town, with all the benefits this will bring, is private sector participation, as is currently the case for the Port of Durban and Ngqura. We have seen the impact and success of the collaboration with the private sector in the ports of Maputo in Mozambique and Cartagena in Colombia. We too can see similar successes in competitiveness, which is why I firmly believe that the Port of Cape Town should be included in Operation Vulindlela as a priority and to unlock the kind of partnerships we need to succeed.”
Participants acknowledged that there are many models to include the private sector, but that emphasis needs to be placed on exploring the appropriate model for the Port of Cape Town, to ensure that the benefits can be felt as soon as possible.
Further discussions around private sector participation also delved into investment beyond the port, towards inland networks, both to relieve pressure at the port, but also to increase capacity.
Minister Wenger welcomed improvements at the Port of Cape Town over the last year, including:
- Improvements in performance indicators, such as average vessel waiting time at anchor, improving from approximately 4.3 days in the first half of 2022, compared to an approximate average of 1.5 days in the second half of the year; and the average total turnaround time of 9.7 days in the first half of 2022, improving to an approximate average of 5 days in the second half last year;
- The addition and operalisation of the nineth ship to shore crane in November last year, which provides additional capacity to allow maintenance schedules to be kept without compromising crane deployment;
- The increased Rubber Tyred Gantries (RTG) fleet, which should be up to 24 by the end of this month and the arrangements made by Transnet Port Terminals to bring equipment manufacturers and a larger stock of spare parts on site which should go some way to mitigate the impacts of RTG breakdowns;
- The installation of two upgraded hydraulic short tension units which will significantly reduce the negative impact of ranging during the next citrus export season;
- The achievement by Cape Town Container Terminals on their record performance of moving almost 20,000 TEU’s in the week starting 18 July last year; and
- The collaborative efforts of port stakeholders to encourage the use of night shifts in the Cape Town container terminals has resulted in the record 17% utilization during the second week of December 2022, up from just 4% previously.
The Minister said: “We now need to build on these successes by continuing to partner and collaborate across the Port value chain.”
Following robust and fruitful discussions, a number of other recommendations, aimed at achieving an efficient, productive and free-flowing Port of Cape Town, which continues to grow, contribute to the economy and create jobs, included:
- Building on what has worked, including intensified collaboration on top priorities, including equipment augmentation, reduced transporter congestion, and two-way communication;
- The integration of logistics planning among agencies, including wind mitigation and nightshift utilisation;
- The need to agree upon and jointly pursue appropriate best practice performance targets;
- Investigate suitable opportunities for private sector participation in the port logistics chain, including virtual ports and cool ports;
- Explore inland terminal development and Salt River Back of Port facility;
- Collaborating to achieve the high growth scenario for the Port of Cape Town which anticipates 26% export growth, 20 000 more direct and indirect jobs, and an additional 0.7% contribution to the Western Cape Gross Domestic Product, by 2026; and
- The establishment of full-time project management capacity to drive the achievement of collective goals.
Addressing the gathering on the importance fruit exports from the Western Cape, Minister of Agriculture, Ivan Meyer, said: “The Western Cape is responsible for 53% of South Africa’s agricultural exports and 80% of our exports go via seaports. I am pleased with the progress and future plans of transport in the sector to grow our proudly Western Cape exports.”
Minister Wenger concluded that: “Put simply, if the port works, our economy works. Now, more than ever, we must work harder to unleash the full potential of the port, so that it can contribute much more to the economy and create thousands more jobs for the residents of the Western Cape and South Africa.”
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Western Cape Finance and Economic Opportunities.