Western Cape Business News

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SHIPPING: Taming The Wind In The Port


Recent Western Cape Business News

CAPE TOWN’s port terminal’s battle against downtime caused by strong winds could be made easier this year, signalling some relief for an industry often hamstrung by adverse weather in the Cape. Port operator Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) is implementing proactive measures to ensure operational stability during the peak period for refrigerated (‘reefer’) cargo, which coincides with the city’s windy season.

From September to March the terminal handles increased volumes of reefer cargo (mainly fruit), but strong winds cause operational delays, especially in the container sector.

In previous years wind delays at Cape Town Terminal have been calculated at between 45 and 145 hours per month, from September to March. Excessive delays of vessels at anchor ultimately lead to congestion in the terminal. Terminal operation becomes limited because of the wind tolerance of the equipment, for example rubber-tyred gantry (RTG) cranes are limited beyond 72km/hour and ship-to-shore (STS) cranes beyond 80km/hour. At excessive winds the equipment cuts off completely.

The approach this year includes a complex mix of flexible shift patterns and a review of container capacity in the stacking yard. This includes ongoing assessment of available equipment with the emphasis on retaining flexible machinery.

Also critical to the success of the plan is engagement with customers to plan vessels better and encourage higher productivity.

TPT recently adopted a holistic approach in its regional port operations with the merger of the Cape Town container and combi / multipurpose facilities. The benefits of this move include shared resources, berths and stack capacity across the terminals.

Containers are being transferred efficiently between the two terminals to align with the vessel berthing strategy, while using the Agri Ro-Ro terminal (formerly known as the multipurpose terminal or MPT) for recovery periods.

TPT has embarked on a stakeholder engagement process to share its peak/windy season strategy and gain feedback from industry. Already positive feedback has been received from bodies such as the Harbour Carriers Association and Port Liaison Forum chaired by the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

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