The Standing Committee on Finance, Economic Opportunities and Tourism received a briefing from Transnet and the Department of Economic Development and Tourism regarding progress in dealing with container backlogs in the Port of Cape Town, and the recent cyber attacks on the ports.
The Department focused its presentation on the container backlogs, stakeholder commitments and priorities. Amongst the many priorities and commitments, the emphasis was on improving communication in the logistics chain; integrating data on containers delivered for export to create capacity for export growth and preventing bottlenecks in the terminal and a loss in the value of cargo; improving transporter turnaround times and providing truck-staging facilities with ablutions; providing advanced skills development, optimising economic utilisation of commercial property in the port, and unlocking the growth potential in ship repair and yacht building.
In considering the optimisation of the economic utilisation of commercial property in the port, it had been found that the current short lease policy was a disincentive for large capital investment, and valuable property on the port's perimeter was under-utilised. The Department had been engaging with relevant Transnet operating divisions on behalf of business, and promoting collaboration on specific projects such as truck staging areas and inland ports. As a consequence, a convergence on the ease of doing business as a common strategic point of departure was gathering momentum. It was anticipated the impact would increase long term capital investment in production capacity and a realisation of property value. There was a need for collaboration between Transnet, business and provincial/local government to accelerate the unlocking of economic value from under-utilised Transnet properties.
Technology developments in the global port environment required advances in the current general skill sets of employees in the port logistics chain. There was consensus about the strategic priority of skills development. The Department had supported the Commercial Transport Academy to train women drivers. It was engaging private sector skills programmes in the logistics chain. The first intake of 28 female truck drivers had been completed. Driver skills would contribute to improved truck turnaround times in container terminals.
It had been found that communication between the port and port users was intermittent and pushed one-way from Transnet only, with negative consequences for users wishing to align their planning with port services. The Department had encouraged a weekly operations coordination meeting where terminal reports and ease of doing business were standing items on the agenda. It was recommended that WhatsApp groups be created, where terminal shift supervisors would respond immediately to communications from port users. There was a plan to create backup communications platforms for periods of disruption to reduce avoidable disruptions.
Transnet said it had adopted a new approach and strategic thinking to drive South Africa’s trade competitiveness. Its key commodity segments were grouped into two broad portfolios requiring re-balancing. First, there were bulk commodities, where Transnet had a significant competitive advantage and delivered value to the logistics chain. Second, there were the industrial sectors, where Transnet’s performance was not competitive, and significant value chain optimisation was required. Rail reform provided an additional platform to leverage partnerships for growth through open access principles, allowing more focus on what Transnet was good at. Transnet’s balance sheet limited its ability to invest, and partnerships were required to fund specific capacity expansion.
Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) said the strategy for the Port of Cape Town was centred on new business development, stakeholder engagement, port authority oversight, human capital management in all its facets, and harnessing technological improvements in port operations. The port had the vision to be a premium, smart, competitive, customer-centric peoples' port providing world-class infrastructure and delivering premium maritime services.
Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) updated the Committee on current operations at Cape Town Terminals and plans to ramp up operational performance. It highlighted that the Cape Town Port was battling with adverse wind conditions which had resulted in the inefficiency of terminal operations and major backlogs. Between April 2021 and January 2022, 629 hours had been lost through berthing delays.
Transnet Freight Rail talked about opportunities at the Belcon Terminal, which had excess capacity. An engagement with the agricultural industry had taken place on 9 February to discuss strategic issues and opportunities to facilitate current agriculture volumes and the growth anticipated in the Cape region.
Transnet also updated the Committee on the recent cyber security attacks on the Cape Town Ports. Its briefing was mainly about answers to questions that had been asked at its previous engagement with the Committee. Its discussion with the Committee Members was a closed session.
Members wanted to know if the entity was going to use the same infrastructure for its proposed movement of manganese exports to the West Coast, and if capital investment was going to be needed; what the problem was concerning maintenance and backlogs, because this had been referred to a lot about state-owned entities, especially those involved in infrastructure, and if the budget was the inhibiting factor; wanted to find out about what had happened to the "Road to Rail" pilot project which the Committee had been briefed about four years ago. They asked if there was an in-house skills development programme to meet the demands; wanted clarity on the slow pace of investment in ship repair maintenance; asked about who constituted the Whatsapp groups, seeing that they were instrumental in easing communication. They asked about Transnet's night-time operations, what it was doing about its faulty telephone lines, whether Cape Town Port should cover its own costs seeing the Department was claiming it had no funds; what the possibility was for bringing in private partners; and if the port was making money or running at a loss.
Progress on container backlogs: DEDAT
Mr John Peters, Chief Director: Integrated Economic Development Services (IEDS), Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDAT), focused his presentation on progress on container backlogs and stakeholder commitments and priorities. Amongst the many priorities, the emphasis was on improving communication in the logistics chain, integrating data on containers delivered for export to create capacity for export growth and prevent bottlenecks in terminal and loss in value of cargo, improve transporter turnaround time and provide truck staging with ablutions, advanced skills development, optimising economic utilisation of commercial property in the port, and unlocking growth potential in ship repair and yacht building.
On unlocking the growth potential in ship repair and yacht building, he said shipbuilding and repair activities were below potential. As a result, the industry potential had been investigated and documented. Engagements with stakeholders had been carried out, and a ship repair stakeholder workshop was staged to craft a common vision and strategy with Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA). This had led to the retention of three projects during lockdown which attracted significant expenditure and job creation for the local economy. Resolutions from the ship repair stakeholder workshop would be implemented, and the dormant potential in the industry would be developed to accelerate economic growth and job creation.
Concerning optimisation of economic utilisation of commercial property in the port, it had been found that the current short lease policy was a disincentive for large capital investment, and valuable property on the port perimeter was under-utilised. The Department had been engaging with relevant Transnet operating divisions on behalf of business and promoting collaboration on specific projects such as truck staging areas and inland ports. As a consequence, the convergence on ease of doing business as a common strategic point of departure was gathering momentum. It was anticipated the impact would increase long term capital investment in production capacity and the realisation of property value. There was a need for collaboration between Transnet, business and provincial/local government to accelerate the unlocking of economic value from under-utilised Transnet properties.
About advanced skills development, he said technology developments in the global port environment required advances in the current general skill sets of employees in the port logistics chain.
Consensus had been achieved about the strategic priority of skills development. The Department had collaborated and supported the Commercial Transport Academy to train women drivers. It was engaging private sector skills programmes in the logistics chain. The first intake of 28 female truck drivers had been completed. Driver skills would contribute to improved truck turnaround times in container terminals. The Western Cape government had maintained it would support advanced skills development which needed to be rolled out in all aspects of the port logistics chain.
Regarding improving transporter turnaround time and providing truck staging with ablutions, the problem had been around delays in truck turnaround time that was getting worse, and this had challenged the financial sustainability of container transporters. The Department had engaged with container transporters to get their perspectives. It had also conducted action research into the root causes of transporter congestion and presented the results and recommendations to Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) and the industry. The findings and recommendations had been accepted. Several recommendations, such as the truck booking system and a real-time communication system between transporters and terminal shift supervisors, had been implemented since October 2021. Improvements had been recorded in truck turnaround time in the terminal since the end of November 2021. The integration of fruit export data had been used in the design of the truck booking system. The challenge now was to provide waiting areas for transporters in the terminal and outside the port when contingencies arise. Going forward, the Department would engage with Transnet to find and develop suitable waiting sites for transporters until the permanent staging area was ready by 2024, facilitate greater utilisation of the night shift by exporters, importers and shipping lines, and support the terminal to develop overflow truck parking on site.
The challenge of integrating data on containers delivered for export to create capacity for export growth and prevent bottlenecks in terminal and loss in value of cargo had been around excellent data parcels that had been kept by various agencies in the port logistics chain, but this had not been integrated and used to manage the seasonal peaks that disrupt container cargo flows from loading points to the container terminal and on to vessels. As a result, the Department had assisted the three biggest export users of the Cape Town Container Terminal (CTCT) to integrate their container dispatch data and map their logistics chains. The results were presented to Transnet Port Terminals, which had accepted them as a first step to manage peaks in container cargo flows to reduce disruption on container handling capacity.
The process of synchronisation in the container logistics chain for the CTCT had started. This would reduce the backlogs and potential loss of value for cargo content when the terminal became congested. Synchronisation was required for a wide range of agencies in the container terminal logistics chain, including exporters, importers, the terminal and shipping lines. Further data integration was required for the remaining export commodities and container imports. The plan was to expand the data integration and facilitate synchronisation between planners in warehouses/cold stores, the container terminal and shipping lines.
Concerning improving communication in the logistics chain, it had been discovered that communication between the port and port users was intermittent and pushed one-way from Transnet only, with negative consequences for users to align their planning with port services. The Department had encouraged a weekly operations coordination meeting, where terminal reports and ease of doing business were standing items on the agenda. Terminal reports include daily performance on equipment availability. The Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) report includes a focus on delays caused by marine services. Strategy task teams were created for aspects that require longer-term interventions. It was recommended creating WhatsApp groups, where terminal shift supervisors would respond immediately to communications from port users. These were the first steps towards improved alignment between planning by port users and daily contingencies in the Port of Cape Town and its container terminals. Challenges were around communication systems such as telephone lines that still do not function optimally, especially during times of significant disruption. The plan was to create backup communications platforms for periods of disruption, reduce avoidable disruptions by advocating for adequate equipment availability and essential capacity for maintenance, and advocate for improved responses to customer complaints.
Mr Peters, in his conclusion, said they were making steady progress. As they moved forward, they were working towards solidifying partnerships to improve delivery and client service, supporting Transnet in delivering on commitments, and proposing a formalisation of the reporting and accountability structure among the agencies to escalate unresolved matters to the executive structure that meets quarterly.
(Tables and graphs were shown to illustrate selected research outputs and the number of Twenty Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) dropping in the Cape Town Port, and the impact on indicators)
Briefing by Transnet
Dr Andrew Shaw, Group Chief Officer: Strategy and Planning, Transnet, said Transnet had adopted a new approach and strategic thinking to drive South Africa’s trade competitiveness. Its key commodity segments were grouped into two broad portfolios requiring re-balancing. First, there were bulk commodities, where Transnet had a significant competitive advantage and delivered value to the logistics chain. Second, there were industrial sectors where Transnet’s performance was not competitive and significant value chain optimisation was required. Rail reform provided an additional platform to leverage partnerships for growth through open access principles, allowing more focus on what Transnet was good at. Transnet’s balance sheet limited its ability to invest, and partnerships were required to fund specific capacity expansion. Partner-driven value chain optimisation was required to turn around loss-making and poorly performing businesses.
Dr Shaw also mentioned key segments that were focused on the Port of Cape Town. Improved maritime connectivity and efficiencies were key to South Africa's manufacturing competitiveness, the driving objective behind the Hub Port strategy. Transnet would reposition the Ports of Ngqura and Cape Town as contributor ports to support the multi-port calling strategy of major shipping lines. The CTCT presently had berthing capacity for 1.4m TEUs but was constrained by the landside terminal capacity. Partner-driven investment to equalise capacity in addition to improvements in container handling efficiency and rail realignment were planned for the terminal. As was currently the case, the Port of Cape Town’s role as a supplementary, or onboarding, a channel for junior manganese miners was to be continued via multi-port terminal (MPT) uploading.
Transnet had identified significant opportunities to regain market share in the transport of grain and to grow rail volumes up to six million tons (per annum) 6mtpa in the next five years. Targeted agri-logistics solutions include introducing the private sector in operations and asset development elements traditionally provided by Transnet, and supporting grain-producing areas such as Caledon via containerised exports through the CTCT. For citrus and other fruits, rail was also the only economically sustainable solution from a volume, product compliance and green transport perspective, with more than 3mtpa of this high value segment identified as rail- --addressable. The effective implementation of the agricultural segment strategy would entail a more responsive partnership based on a cold chain logistics solution, revitalising strategic branch line assets and inland refrigerated container terminals, and leveraging improved efficiencies at port terminals such as the Port of Cape Town.
Adv Phyllis Difeto, Western Region Managing Executive, TNPA, briefed the committee about progress on the backlogs of the Cape Town Port and its development plans.
She said the TNPA had come up with plans to support the new Transnet strategy. It had decided to strengthen its oversight role on all terminal operators so that everything was in line with the TNPA Act. It was important to monitor the performance of all terminal operators. The strategy for the Port of Cape Town was centred on new business development, stakeholder engagement, port authority oversight, human capital management in all its facets, and harnessing technological improvements in port operations. The port had the vision to be a premium, smart, competitive, customer-centric, peoples' port providing world-class infrastructure and delivering premium maritime services.
Challenges were around the container side because of the lack of capacity. Concerning the berth and depth of the port, there was a need to accommodate bigger vessels and meet technological advances to satisfy customer needs. Operational inefficiencies had proved to be another challenge as they tried to advance port development plans. There was a need to align things with terminal operators to achieve efficiencies. The port congestion needed to be addressed, especially in the truck staging areas. The current project on the interim structure would be completed during the 2023/24 financial year. Short-term plans would see the light of the day by end of March 2022, while medium-term plans would be finalised after five years from now. Other identified challenges were around the ageing marine fleet and the slow pace of investment in ship repair facilities. Lastly, the entity planned to partner with Transnet Property to develop Culemborg to unlock opportunities in the Port of Cape Town.
Mr Nqobile Ndlovu, Acting Terminal Manager, Transnet Port Terminals (TPT), updated the Committee on current operations at Cape Town Terminals and plans to ramp up operational performance. In his presentation, he highlighted that Cape Town Port was battling with the wind. This windy weather had resulted in the inefficiency of the port terminal operations and major backlogs. Between April 2021 and January 2022, 629 hours had been lost through berthing delays. Last year, they had experienced berthing delays of 1 450 hours. The local terminal last year lost 60 days of productivity because of challenges related to bad weather conditions. January had been reported as a bad month, but this year they had managed to work for only seven days without interruption. They were losing 12 hours a day. Volumes exported through the Cape Town harbour were higher than in other regions. For the current year, they were sitting at 67 days already. It was a peak season, though they were competing with the wind.
He said they had installed capacity of 1.4 million TEUs, but were executing only 1.0 million TEUs. These challenges had resulted in lost productivity, which had reduced the export of cargo. This had had an impact on the economy. About 47 000 citrus containers had been exported through the Cape Town terminals. A peak in terms of volumes also meant a peak in terms of the wind.
Mr Ndlovu said they had already undertaken some strategic interventions. These included night-shift truck utilisation and collaborating with other stakeholders to move cargo at night, the acquisition of a third mobile crane, six additional haulers, five additional straddle carriers, and they communicated with other stakeholders or customers via a WhatsApp group regarding weather forecasts and things to be expected in terms of work.
Currently, they were implementing recommendations they received from the World Bank for TPT. The recommendations were as follows:
- ensuring berth capacity existed to deal with the vessel backlogs, and appropriate buffers were planned in the berthing performa;
- planning training;
- develop customer performance metrics and monitor;
- utilise appointment system to drive dual transactions on all truck visits; and
- TPT Commercial: prepare Terminal Handling Charges (THCs) to promote low peak pick-ups and deliveries, change free times to reduce dwell times, and promote road to rail.
Some of the recommendations related to customers were:
-customer behavior to address vital issues such as export cargo gate-in and stowage planning deadlines being respected, to enable vessel and yard operation optimisation and efficiencies;
-vessels should not be berthed without an approved stowage / load plan;
-terminal handling charges (THCs) could be utilised to drive desired behaviours: optimise crane intensities and efficiencies, stack gas/fumes which create delays, twistlock condition and quantity, and vessel structure issues, safety, maintenance and repairs.
He concluded by stating that South Africa needed to semi-automate to remain competitive in the future. The Cape Town Terminal needed to be upgraded from manual to semi-automated operation. This scope of the project meant changing from manual to remote crane operation of ship-to-shore (STS), rubber-tyred gantry (RTG) and rail-mounted gantry (RMG) cranes, establishing a terminal main control room, fitting smart sensors for performance monitoring of manual equipment (hauler trucks etc.), installing a high-speed industrial network to connect equipment to the control room, and building an electronics workshop for online real-time equipment condition monitoring and fault diagnostics.
Mr Siyabonga Maqabanga, Terminal Manager, Transnet Port Terminals, took the Committee through the challenges and recovery plans of the Cape Town MPT. In 2021, challenges had presented themselves around areas like insufficient container handling equipment, poor mobile habour crane reliability, landside infrastructure, reliability of service delivery impacted vessel schedule reliability, and limited reefer plug points.
Regarding insufficient container handling equipment, the entity had acquired a third mobile crane during December 2021, six additional haulers during January 2022, and five additional straddle carriers during July 2021. Reefer plug points were increased from 300 to 350. For poor mobile harbour crane reliability, the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) was contracted to strengthen maintenance during January 2022. On landside infrastructure, the quayside got resurfaced, while the rail siding was upgraded and improvements made to the truck booking system. On the reliability of service delivery impacted vessel schedule reliability, two key trades were serviced (estimated 90 000 TEU per annum) for AMEX (US trade) and AIMS (West Africa and Middle East).
He added the new mobile cranes had strengthened the fleet capacity to three, and this had brought greater reliability with an OEM-supported maintenance regime, so quick operational recovery was possible. There had been more stability after the receipt of five additional straddle carriers. There was a total fleet of seven machines to service container traffic. Uptime had improved since the acquisition of three pieces of reach stackers. An additional machine was expected end of March.
Finally, he said plans were to grow and leverage manganese exports through the hub, to finalise the rail\road logistics solution, and to migrate manganese to NMET in 2026/27. Another thing was to maintain complementary container operations to CTCT, and partner and collaborate to maintain the integrity of the fruit export cold- chain.
Mr Russell Baatjies, CapeCor Managing Executive, Transnet Freight Rail, talked about opportunities at the Belcon Terminal.
He said Belcon had excess capacity and which translated to about 26% of the available 200 000+ TEU capacity. An engagement with the agricultural industry had taken place on 9 February to discuss strategic issues and opportunities to facilitate current agriculture volumes and the growth anticipated in the Cape region. Currently, the terminal had got about 100 plug points to serve reefer traffic even though it required a total of 500 plug points to meet the industry demand for reefer traffic.
He added they had met with the chief operating officer (COO) of the Fresh Produce Export Forum on 11 February to explore opportunities to expand the reefer capacity at Belcon. Commercial terms and agreements were to be finalised. They had also met with various customers and stakeholders recently regarding provincial special projects (PSP) opportunities to increase reefer capacity at Belcon, setting up cold storage facilities at Transnet Park, utilising Transnet Park warehouse to facilitate/support rail, and make use of vacant land adjacent to the Belcon terminal to set up an empty container park to support rail. Several PSP proposals were expected during Quarter One, though they were not limited only to reefer traffic.
Mr Pandelani Munyai, Group Chief Information Officer, Transnet, updated the Committee on the recent cyber security attacks on the Cape Town Ports. His briefing was mainly about answers to questions that had been asked in his previous engagement with the Committee. It must be noted his discussion with the Committee Members was a closed session.
On what was being done to address the delays that affected the container terminals in the Western Cape, and the steps to ensure that cyber-attacks do not recur, he reported that Transnet had executed the following:
Brought in cyber security experts to assist with incident analysis;
Transnet and its service providers had secured and reconstructed the affected systems;
Legacy systems had been upgraded;
Upgraded the anti-virus software to more resilient solutions;
All older operating systems had been upgraded to current operating systems and fully patched before being brought back online;
Direct focus on building cyber security skills;
Rolled out information security awareness training to all Transnet staff;
Implementation of cyber security measures such multi-factor authentication;
Several cyber security mitigation plans were implemented;
Implemented incident monitoring and response strategies;
Establishment of a virtual state-owned company (SOC);
High-severity alert messages from the anti-malware solution; and
High-severity alerts from the implemented cyber security systems were received by the Virtual Security Operations Centre (VSOC).
(Tables and graphs were shown to illustrate port development framework plans, weather patterns, vessel cancellation and omission, and overview of Cape Town Multi-Purpose Terminal: equipment availability and investment opportunities)
Mr A Van der Westhuizen (DA) commented on securing new equipment for handling high-speed winds and said the impression was that Cape Town was not the only port that had the same challenges existing around the world. He now wanted to find out what the prospects were of getting that equipment and asked if Cape Town Port should not cover its own costs, seeing it had been indicated in the presentation there was no money. Secondly, he wanted clarity on why the Department said there was no money yet there had been under-spending on the capital budget of Transnet Port Terminals which had amounted to R2.3 billion over the last three years. Thirdly, he wanted to know what the possibility of bringing in private partners was and enquired if the port was making money or running at a loss.
Dr Andrew Shaw said the new equipment had been installed to deal with the days on which the port could not do its work because of the wind. He also indicated the Port of Cape Town was profitable, so it could cover its own costs. Operating margins were being driven to repair infrastructure across Transnet. Maintenance needed to be properly funded. As Transnet, they tried to bring partners with different focuses to their ports. Target dates for completing some infrastructure repairs was around October 2022. The key part of the strategy was to get co-investors.
Mr Baatjies pointed out they were always looking for opportunities whenever challenges presented themselves. The new equipment was there to help during adverse weather conditions. The Cape Town Port faced high wave motions during the winter months. The new hydraulic device would hold the vessels more firmly. The first two units had been received. Members had been trained on their use so that the harbour was ready for the winter period.
Ms Andiswa Dlanga, Managing Executive, Transnet Port Terminals, said they were on a mission to fast-track the procurement of the spares they would need for repairs so that they could speedily clear the backlog in infrastructure maintenance. She pointed out they had partnered with OEMs to help with preventative maintenance instead of reactive maintenance. The entity had made acquisitions of mobile harbour cranes and additional straddle carriers. The report highlighted the kind of equipment they had and the additional equipment to be injected.
Ms M Maseko (DA) remarked that the presentation was practical, but indicated the challenge would be on the implementation because they had good policies but no timelines for implementation. Challenges had been identified, but solutions with timelines were not there. The Committee would assist where it could, given the meagre resources at play. Could the Committee be given an indication of the timelines, even if they were provided in writing? She further asked if there was a skills development programme in-house to meet the demands, and wanted clarity on the slow pace of investment in ship repair maintenance.
Dr Shaw said implementation dates had been allocated to what the entity was doing. Some of these dates had been highlighted in the presentation.
Mr Baatjies indicated that ship repair projects had been identified because it had been seen how this benefited the economy. Things were at an advanced stage. All of this was done with ship repairers every two months. The entity was doing a complete modernisation of these services, especially in the Robertson dock. Some installations were going to be done in parallel with other docks as well. There was a plan in place already.
Adv Difeto said that they wanted to make skills identification a success. The key focus of the organisation was to have interns for training. The maritime environment was unique. Skills development was getting attention from the highest level.
Ms Dlanga added they had placed external advertisements to attract students from universities so that they could be absorbed into the system.
Mr Ndlovu said they had an academy for training – the Transnet Academy. That was why they were following the recommendations of the World Bank for the upskilling of employees.
Ms N Nkondlo (ANC) wanted to know what the problem was concerning maintenance and backlogs because a lot had been said about this and SOEs, especially those involved in infrastructure, and she asked if the budget was the inhibiting factor. She also wanted to find out what had happened to the pilot project of the "Road to Rail" project, because the Committee had been briefed about its progress four years ago -- what investment had been put into that project? She asked for clarity on engagements with emerging participants and other stakeholders.
Dr Shaw pointed out that maintenance backlogs were being addressed in the ports. Currently, they were going through the budget process. Maintenance was being prioritised. The building of new infrastructure had been held back to focus on maintenance of infrastructure. There were other challenges around procurement in the public space, because it took a long time. It involved the training of staff on the different stocks to help with procurement. Concerning the Road to Rail project, key investment was being driven to rail. For instance, the key focus for agriculture and automotive industries would be on rail.
Mr Ndlovu reported various port users met weekly for port operations and to discuss challenges encountered, especially those in the WhatsApp groups. The purpose was to improve efficiency.
Ms Yolisa Kani, Chief Business Development Officer, Transnet, said that last year a strategy was developed for emerging miners. Exco had approved the strategy, which was about how to access finance. A product had been created between Transnet and financers of choice by the emerging miners for releasing cash flows. This was work in progress and was in the process of being implemented.
The Chairperson said that around June last year, the Committee had asked Transnet to send monthly or quarterly progress reports so that it did not ask the same questions about problems after seven or eight months of engagement, but nothing had materialised. Who constituted the WhatsApp groups, seeing that they were operational for easing communication? Was Transnet utilising the full night hours for its night shift, and did that happen five days a week, including weekends? She asked for clarity on the faulty Transnet telephone lines. She asked the Department to include the Committee on its email list of stakeholders, to decrease the communication gap between the Department and the Committee. She sought clarity on the efforts to forge a partnership with Transnet Property, the loss of 60 days of work because of the wind at the Cape Town Port, and on the list of equipment for reliability. How many ships were being diverted to other harbours? Finally, she asked the Committee to be forwarded the study on automated and non-automated ports.
Dr Shaw said Transnet was committed to working with the Western Cape government and other partners. However, it was difficult to provide weekly or monthly reports. At least, quarterly reports were practical, and he apologised for not meeting the requirements set during the June 2021 meeting. He indicated they were making industry aware of the night shift focus. Already, there had been engagements with the citrus industry because there was a lot of congestion in the port during the day. He added that the study on automated and non-automated ports would be sent to the Committee.
Adv Difeto said there was a piece of land within the port that was registered with Transnet Property. This involved the Culemborg land, which was 26 hectares, and land on the Salt River side. A new engagement with Transnet Property was needed for some of the projects the TNPA needed to do. Regarding the complementarity of port systems, she pointed out decisions were done by port regulators. The ports were encouraged to collaborate, but not to compete because they were in the same stable. There was also a piece of land located in Paarden Eiland that would be operationalised during 2023. She stated they were working closely with TPT to reduce truck congestion. They intended to operationalise a truck holding area within the port precinct to alleviate truck congestion within the city.
Mr Ndlovu reported that four pieces of equipment had been procured. Those machines were operated by humans. Automation had the advantage of removing the human element. With that kind of equipment, they were able to work in winds of 90km per hour without the human element and stop, and still operate at 80km per hour to save the human element. He add that the night shift operated five days a week, and included weekends. Costs and losses had been incurred, but the turnaround time had greatly improved --by 16%. There were 7 000 trucks per night. The plan was to operate 24 hours.
Mr Baatjies added that the Belcon Station also had a night shift which started from 6 pm until 10 pm. Shifts were arranged according to the available capacity. Work was also done during weekends.
Mr Ndlovu said some Transnet telephone lines did not have a dialing tone, or gave an engaged tone, so they kept on ringing. That was why some messages were relayed through the Whatsapp groups.
The Chairperson remarked there should be collaboration between Transnet Western Cape and the tertiary institutions and technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges in the province on skills development, to ensure all the necessary skills were available.
Ms Nkondlo commented not much had been said about what she raised on the Road to Rail project. She asked Transnet to provide the Committee with a review report of the strategy that had been developed, including the pilot project. She requested that the Committee be furnished with a list of the associations Transnet engaged with on the WhatsApp group. She also asked for a report on the skills development investment in the Western Cape which provided historical data on the kind of training done for their own operations and the entire economy.
Dr Shaw suggested that if there was a specific report the Committee needed, it should direct the request to the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) because the entity was answerable to the DPE. There were limitations and boundaries when it came to the release of reports. An engagement could be arranged with the Committee on skills development for people outside of Transnet.
Ms Nkondlo said there was nothing untoward when a person asked for historic information. She was not satisfied with the explanation given on the Road to Rail project. It appeared the Committee had to be satisfied by what had currently been provided. It was not putting Transnet on the spot, because the Chairperson had extended the invitation to all relevant ministers and political heads.
The Chairperson said that all letters of invitation were standard. The Committee did oversight visits across all government spheres. The Western Cape had a provincial constitution that allowed committees to summon anyone in the country. It was going to be impossible to have a better Cape Town Port if Transnet could not work with the Committee. To avoid the repeat of problems, it was important that people worked together for the betterment of the country. If one port failed, then others would be affected as well and would also fail.
Mr Van der Westhuizen wanted to know if the entity was going to use the same infrastructure for its proposed movement of manganese to the West Coast, and asked if capital investment was going to be needed.
Dr Shaw said manganese was being moved to every terminal in the country, and channels were being rationalised to be competitive. He stressed they were committed to work with the Western Cape government, and indicated they could not create reports that were not in direct line with those of the shareholders. He then asked Transnet to be given space to discuss what it wanted to do in the rail space.
Mr Baatjies told the Committee that the demand for manganese was very high, and that was why it was being moved to all terminals, especially Gqeberha and Saldanha. Saldanha had a capacity of five million tons, while Gqeberha's capacity was ten million tons. The plan was to increase Saldanha's capacity to six million tons, and Gqeberha's to 16 million tons.
Ms Dlanga added that 22 million tons of manganese were produced in the country. The Saldanha terminal was an interim solution, but Transnet had decided to formalise it to handle six million tons of manganese. Cape Town had the capacity to handle one million tons. The more the tonnages were increased, the infrastructure had to be increased to accommodate the demand.
The Committee resolved to receive more information or an update on the Road to Rail project to be informed of the improvements in container terminals, because the Cape Town Port was important to the Western Cape economy, and resolved to monitor statistics on the amount of freight going through the harbour, seeing that agriculture exports were growing.
The Committee agreed it needed to find ways of getting around the protocol in respect of engaging entities like Transnet -- such as how to get information and reports and attendance of provincial parliament committee meetings.
It decided to invite the Standing Committee on Transport to the Road to Rail project engagement with Transnet so that it understood what the project was all about -- the logistical implications and infrastructure requirements.
It agreed to request information on the type of skills required for ports and harbours, the recruitment strategy, the skills development centre (Transnet Academy), and how to access information because there was a big unemployment problem in the country.
The Committee undertook to do an oversight visit to the Belcon Station to get an update on Transnet Property and Transnet Academy; to re-request quarterly reports on operational matters, turnaround times, and the refurbishment and replacement of equipment; and be forwarded information on automation and semi-automation of harbours.
Further, it resolved it would re-issue its invitation to the World Bank and liaise with DEDAT and Treasury for better contact persons; that it be added to the email stakeholder list to stay up to date with Transnet operations; to be sent a list of the stakeholders with which Transnet engages on the WhatsApp group to be able to invite stakeholders with experience of the ports.
Lastly, it agreed that the cyber-attack briefing be included in the Committee report and that the draft Committee report be discussed by Members before it was adopted.
The meeting was adjourned.
Download as PDF
You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.
See detailed instructions for your browser here.