Archives For Transnet

containersThe following was penned by a long-time customs acquaintance Aires Nunes da Costa, who has kindly permitted me to post his article titled “Why unpack containers in Durban if you can have containers at your door step in Gauteng within 24 hours?” which first appeared on LinkedIN.

The Tambo Springs initiative involves creating a significantly improved intermodal capability for the movement of freight to and from Gauteng. This is to be achieved by the operational twinning of the inland port with other seaport, inland and cross border locations. The connectivity i.r.o. these twinned locations is achieved via sea, rail, road and air linkages, ideally involving seamless movement of freight between modes.

The Tambo Springs development incorporates a next generation inland port with a state of the art rail terminal facility designed to be developed in phases, with an ultimate capacity of 1 m TEU’S p.a., as well as, a sprinter freight land bridge.

The key elements are as follows:-

Direct Traditional Rail Link to Durban Harbour

The Tambo Springs Terminal will be linked to the Durban Container Terminal which currently handles the bulk of all container freight moving in and out of Gauteng, via an efficient rail service. The fixed rail infrastructure for this link already exists to the Tambo Springs site. This state of the art Terminal facility is designed to significantly increase the rail capacity for container freight to/from Gauteng, while simultaneously reducing real costs and significantly improving levels of service via:

  • a new technology “greenfields” terminal being more efficient;
  • a reduction of congestion issues in and out of the new inland port due to its location;
    improved efficiency of port operations;
  • having the facility serviced by improved rolling stock commissioned by Transnet;
    Sprinter Freight Rail Link to Ngqura Harbour In the Coega IDZ (Port Elizabeth)

In addition to the direct rail link with Durban harbour, the initial phase of this programme involves the twinning of the Coega IDZ and its adjoining Deep Water Container Terminal at the Port of Ngqura with Tambo Springs. This is to be undertaken by means of a Public Private Partnership type structure which utilizes the Transnet capability between the two locations as well as the participation of SARS.

The service level to be achieved for the movement of the freight via this land bridge has a goal of “24 hours” as opposed to the current 3 to 5 days service level achieved at City Deep. This is to be achieved by capitalizing on the creation of high efficiency intermodal activities integrated with the port functions and feeder network.

Truck Freight Movement

The Tambo Springs Inland Port will function as a multimodal logistics gateway serving the Gauteng Catchment area. It therefore provides ease of movement between individual transportation modes in addition to facilitating manufacturing, warehousing and distribution activities.

The operational plan is therefore designed to accommodate long distance (FTL) truck traffic in addition to regional (LTL) freight movement.

The principle truck markets the inland port will attract include:

  • FTL long distance movement of time sensitive freight from other ports or metropolitan areas. This includes both cross docking and stuffing/de-stuffing facilities within the inland port;
  • Rail/truck (intermodal) movement where product utilizing the rail links is transferred to truck in order to each its final destination;
  • LTL truck and Van short distance movement of freight, including a regional metropolitan distribution function.

The next generation inland port therefore capitalizes both on rail and road transportation modes with a focus on increased movement of long distance freight by sprinter rail.

Intermodal Movement

In order to achieve seamless intermodal movement of freight between sea, rail, road and air transport, it is essential to link Tambo Springs with other inland port and hub locations. The creation of such a twinned Inland Port Network provides a means to effectively participate in the Global Supply Chain in a manner which optimizes both existing and new facilities to enhance capacity. Hence, for example, Tambo Springs would be linked to City Deep via rail and road linkages and to other hub locations in Gauteng and elsewhere.

A principle element of this approach is to create an efficient transportation service between all the individual entry/exit ports providing an improved level of service over and above that provided by a traditional network. The key to this is to rethink existing processes with a focus on efficiency savings in terms of the inbound and outbound process flow at Tambo Springs. This has been incorporated into the operational concept and addresses both operational and customs and regulatory efficiency issues as part of the supply chain. Source: Aires Nunes da Costa (Customs & Excise Specialist)

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TNPA SpotlightTransnet’s new Spotlight App enables its customers to Track and Trace their containers, adding a valuable service to assist with their day to day planning, to increase operational efficiency.

Available on Android and Apple devices, current features include “Track and Trace”, which is not only focused on containers, but also extended to trucks and vessels. Track and Trace extends across all Transnet Terminals and TFR Navis Facilities.

Soon to be released features will enable our customers to be notified of any operational changes in the various Transnet Terminals, from weather conditions to any congestion issues.  In addition, the “Register Me” feature will enable Transnet to send customers personalised information regarding their specific consignments.

The Transnet Spotlight App is in line with Transnet’s MDS pillars, being Admired, Digital, Agile and Value, Transnet Spotlight is the only app in the industry that provides status of consignments across all Shipping Lines.  Future releases will extend to other industries. Source: Transnet.co.za

Tambo SpringsSouth Africa’s freight and logistics company Transnet this week launched its massive drive to bring private sector operators into the country’s freight system.

The company has issued a request for proposals inviting suitably qualified global logistics service providers to design, build, operate, maintain and eventually hand over its proposed inland container terminal in Tambo Springs, East of Johannesburg – a 630ha site located on land originally known as Tamboekiesfontein farm.

The concession will be over a 20-year period and will be Transnet’s biggest private sector participation project to date.

The proposed terminal is in line with Transnet’s drive to migrate rail friendly cargo off the country’s road network.

The terminal is expected to be in operation by 2019 and will have an initial capacity of 144 000 TEUs per annum, with an option to ramp it up to 560 000 TEUs, depending on demand.

The project entails the following:

  • Arrival and departure yard for handling cargo trains
  • Terminal infrastructure;
  • Terminal equipment;
  • Stacking area;
  • Warehousing space
  • Distribution centre
  • Inland Reefer facilities

Transnet Freight Rail will be responsible for the operation of the arrival and departure yard required to service the terminal.

The operator will be responsible for loading and offloading of containers and marketing of the facility. The winning bidder is expected to introduce new entrants – particularly black players – must have demonstrated technical expertise, a minimum of level 4 BBBEE status with a commitment to reach level 2 by the third year of operation.

Transnet currently operates 5 inland terminals in Gauteng, including the City Deep Container Terminal in Johannesburg, Africa’s largest inland port.

The proposed terminal is an integral part of the Presidential Infrastructure Co-ordinating Committee’s SIP 2, aimed at unlocking the country’s industrial development while boosting export capability. It is designed to complement Transnet’s container-handling capacity in the province.

This is the culmination of years of hard work and a demonstration of cooperative governance between Transnet, representing the national competence, and both the Gauteng Provincial Government and the Ekurhuleni Municipality.

The Tambo Springs terminal is one of three mega terminals that Transnet is planning to build in Gauteng over the next 20 years. It will be located in Ekurhuleni along the N3, just off the Natal Corridor.

The project is expected to create 50 000 jobs, and has stringent requirements for supplier development and skills transfer. Source: Transnet

Transnet Freight RailAs from 1 July 2016, Transnet Freight Rail (TFR), as a transporter, must obtain proof of sea export container weights for rail to a Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) port facility. TPT has already engaged with all its shipping line customers and all respective bodies. Customers working on average mass will not be allowed to do so as from 1 July 2016 and must provide verified proof of the mass loaded into a container.

After reviewing the requirements of SOLAS, TFR has come to the conclusion that it is able to offer the service to provide the Verified Gross Mass (VGM) for Method 1 to customers who make use of Transnet rail services for export containers railed from TFR terminals equipped with weighbridges – click here to read TFR’s requirements for VGM.

The following links provide examples of the documentation and declaration which must be made available to TFR either as part of the documentation or as a separate attachment –

Source: Transnet Freight Rail

At the launch of Transnet National Ports Authority's new Integrated Port Management System (IPMS) [Transnet]

At the launch of Transnet National Ports Authority’s new Integrated Port Management System (IPMS) [Transnet]

Transnet National Ports Authority’s new web-based Integrated Port Management System (IPMS) went live on 26 July at the pilot site, the Port of Durban, with the crude oil tanker, Colorado, the first to be brought into the port using the new system.

Developed by Navayuga Infotech, a company based in India, in collaboration with their South African partner Nambiti Technologies, the IPMS is a strategic project that aims to support the broader objectives of the Transnet Market Demand Strategy (MDS) in terms of efficiency and productivity.

The project will cost TNPA around R79 million for the entire system, for all eight South African ports, covering concept development, architecture, implementation and rollout.

TNPA Chief Executive, Richard Vallihu, said: “Since 2008, various feasibility studies were undertaken where we identified the need for an automated and web-based system to improve port operations, strengthen efficiencies and enhance competitiveness. This online system will help transform our ocean gateways into smartPORTs by using advanced information technology that will make them more intelligent and sustainable, while conserving resources, time, space and energy.”
The system replaces manual processes, with key port operations now set to be automated, online and in real time.

Vallihu said the IPMS was benchmarked against Malaysian and Singaporean ports which were among the world’s most efficient. The IPMS system will be a groundbreaking initiative in that for the first time in the world a system such as this is integrated across multiple ports on a single platform.

“For us as a customer-focused organisation this state-of-the-art information technology will ensure that port information and processes are transparent and easily accessible to users throughout the South African port logistics chain,” he said.

Yugen Reddy of Sharaf Shipping Agency was excited about being able to work more efficiently. “My role as an agent is to make sure that ships are in and out of the port as quick as possible because time is money. With IPMS we will be able to use our smart phones or tablets while we’re out and about to update the system and get acknowledgment from TNPA on the spot with regards to sailing or berthing of vessels,” he said.

Vessel agent, Londa Small of Thembani Shipping agreed. “I am optimistic about the IPMS system because everything’s going to be in real-time enabling quicker turnaround,” he said.

IPMS will link to Transnet Freight Rail’s Integrated Train Plan (ITP) and Train Execution Management System (TEMS). It is also integrated with global systems such as Lloyds Register, AIS (for vessel traffic management), IPOSS (for weather), EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) and SAP (for business operations, customer relations and finance).

From Durban the project team will move on to Cape Town and Saldanha, then Port Elizabeth, Ngqura and East London and finally to Richards Bay and Mossel Bay.

TNPA conducted daily intensive training for internal and external users at the Maritime School of Excellence in Durban during June. Source: Transnet

Artistic impression - Durban Dig-out Port

Artistic impression – Durban Dig-out Port

An international ports expert has expressed serious reservations about Durban’s proposed dig-out port. He said plans for a dig-out port should be put on hold, with efforts rather directed at maximising the existing facilities and potential at Durban Harbour.

International adviser and expert on port development Jamie Simpson, of Canada, has warned Transnet and the eThekwini Municipality against pursuing the dig-out port, saying the current port has to “keep going”. Simpson was a guest speaker at a ports and cities dialogue with Durban businesses, hosted by the municipality’s Edge (Economic Development and Growth eThekwini) at the Moses Mabhida Stadium yesterday. His point of view was supported by two other speakers.

However, Transnet group strategy general manager Irvindra Naidoo was adamant that the parastatal was forging ahead with the project, saying Durban was “running out of capacity” and had to expand.

Naidoo said: “The question was: ‘Okay, do we now go off somewhere else and develop a new maritime cluster around Richards Bay or somewhere else, or do we try to embed or strengthen the cluster… (by extending) the Durban port?’ That’s what this dig-out port really is about. It’s an extension of an existing cluster.”

The port, the continent’s busiest, caters for 2.6 million TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units) a year. These result in about 8 000 daily container-related heavy vehicle movements around the Bayhead area. Transnet has repeatedly said that the port will battle to provide the capacity for future demand.

Naidoo said with a dig-out port at the old Durban International Airport site, the containers could reach 8.2 million TEU by 2040, resulting in about 17 500 heavy vehicle movements daily in the South Durban Basin.

Simpson told the panel that the move “might not be a very good solution”. He said: “In view of the likely availability of financing – a lot of uncertainty – I think the port has to keep going and develop a capital investment plan and operational improvement plans to meet demand in the next five to 10 years.”

From there, he said, the parastatal could “weigh up” whether a bigger port “makes sense in view of market conditions… and availability of finance at the time”.

The first phase of construction of the dig-out port was expected to start between 2021 and 2025. A pre-feasibility study started in 2013. To read the full article click here! Source: iol.co.za

South African Port Hanbook [SAOGA]Following a successful SAOGA (South African Oil & Gas Alliance) has launched the second edition of the South African Port Handbook at the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston during the first week of May 2014. The book is available in a user-friendly .pdf format on the internet. To view the online version in an e-book format please click the hyperlink – SA Port Handbook. For a downloadable (.pdf) version of the book please visit SAOGA’s website.

Rapid progress is being made on a multimillion rand contract awarded by Transnet Capital Projects to Concor Civils for the construction of new concrete paving, civil services and electrical lighting at its City Deep Container Terminal. The terminal is currently being upgraded as part of Transnet’s rolling capital investment programme.

The container terminal at City Deep is known to be the largest “dry port” in the world and the City Deep area has been declared an IDZ (Industrial Development Zone) by the Gauteng government. (?)

The contract is scheduled for completion in May 2014 and includes the removal of 36 500 m3 of existing concrete paving, 110 000 m3 of earthworks, the installation of a new drainage system and all service ducting and manholes for lighting, fire mains, CCTV equipment, 360 t of mesh reinforcing and the placing of approximately 146 000 m2 of concrete paving.

The Concor Civils team is making use of as many emerging contractors as possible to supply services such as pipe laying, ducting and manholes and has undertaken to employ about 90 general workers at peak from the local community at a cost of some R10 million. These temporary workers will be given on the job training in basic technical skills, as well as in life skills. Source: Transport World Africa

Transnet moves ahead with Maydon Wharf upgrade plan. (Picture credit:  Duane Daws, Creamer Media)

Transnet moves ahead with Maydon Wharf upgrade plan. (Picture credit: Duane Daws, Creamer Media)

Port Technology reports that the IMO’s stricter sulphur emission standards are likely to have a profound impact on the maritime industry. With this in mind, PTI’s sixtieth edition pays a particular focus to the challenges ahead if LNG is to become the shipping fuel of the future and if this is the most viable option for shipping lines vying to meet these new regulations. Elsewhere, we have contributions form Drewry, Liftech consultants and a host of key industry experts, engineers and analysts.

The Port of Durban is situated on the east coast of South Africa, in the KwaZulu- Natal Province. The port is the busiest on the African continent, and the biggest in terms of container capacity with 44 percent of South Africa’s break-bulk cargo and 61 percent of all containerised cargo flowing through it. In 2010 alone, the port handled 2.5 million TEU.

The port has 57 berths and is protected by the north and south breakwaters, which are 335 metres and 700 metres long respectively. It was developed primarily for import cargo but over the years, cargo flows have changed significantly and exports have become more important. Over 4,000 commercial vessels now call at the port each year.

The Maydon Wharf terminal

The Maydon Wharf multi-purpose terminal (MPT) handles a variety of containerised, break-bulk and bulk cargo, and specialises in the handling of specific commodities. The terminal also handles both import and export containers, taking it to an average of 15,000 TEU. It has an annual throughput of more than one million tonnes of break-bulk and neobulk commodities. The Maydon Wharf area consists of 15 berths and the MPT operates principally between berths eight and 13.

Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) has initiated an extensive upgrade of the infrastructure at the port. One of the major projects is to rebuild and deepen seven of the 15 berths in the Maydon Wharf area. The new quays will be able to accommodate larger vessels and provide suitable load-carrying capacity for the handling of cargos over the berths. Source: Port Technology

THE FIRST two of 95 Class 20E dual-voltage electric locomotives being supplied to Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) by the CSR E-loco supply consortium was transferred from the port of Durban to the nearby depot at Umbilo on November 14 for commissioning.

The first 10 locomotives are being built by CSR Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive in China, while the remaining 85 units will be assembled in South Africa by Transnet Engineering. CSR is a 70% partner in CSR E-loco Supply, with local partner Matsetse Basadi holding the remaining 30%. The contract specifies a target of 60.5% for localised content.

The 3MW Class 20E is equipped for operation on 25kV ac and 3kV dc electrification systems and will be used by TFR’s general freight business.

Transnet says the two locomotives have been delivered a month earlier than expected, and it expects a second consignment of four units to arrive in South Africa next month. Source: www.railjournal.com (Pictures credits: FTW Online, and various)

More than 20 crew members were rescued by helicopter from a cargo ship carrying coal that ran aground in rough seas off of South Africa’s Richards Bay port, maritime authorities said on Monday.

Tugboats were trying to pull the 230 metre-long ship named SMART off a sandbank, National Sea Rescue said in a statement, adding that “the structural integrity of the ship was compromised”.

The single-hull, 151,279 tonne ship is registered to Alpha Marine Corp and flies a Panamanian flag. It was supposed to deliver its cargo to the Fangcheng port in China, according to Thomson Reuters data.

No injuries have been reported. The Richards Bay port is on the Indian Ocean.

This is the second cargo ship to run aground off South Africa this month. The other was the 165 metre-long Kiani Satu, which hit ground off the southern coast. Source: Reuters

Proposed Durban-Free State-Gauteng Logistics and Industrial Corridor Plan (SIP2)

Proposed Durban-Free State-Gauteng Logistics and Industrial Corridor Plan (SIP2)

Notwithstanding on-going discontent amongst industry operators in regard to proposed legislative measures mandating customs clearance at first port of entry, the South African government (GCIS) reports that work has already commenced on a massive logistics corridor stretching between Durban and the central provinces of the Free State and Gauteng. Most of the projects that form part of the second Strategic Infrastructure Project (SIP 2), also known as the Durban-Free State-Johannesburg Logistics and Industrial Corridor, are still in the concept or pre-feasibility stage, but construction has already started on several projects.

These include:

  • the building of a R2,3 billion container terminal at City Deep
  • a R3,9 billion project to upgrade Pier 2 at the Port of Durban
  • R14,9 billion procurement of rolling stock for the rail line which will service the corridor.

Work has also started on the R250 million Harrismith logistics hub development to set up a fuel distribution depot, as well as on phase one of the new multi-product pipeline which will run between Johannesburg and Durban and transport petrol, diesel, jet fuel and gas.

The aim of these projects and others which form part of SIP 2, is to strengthen the logistics and transport corridor between South Africa’s main industrial hubs and to improve access to Durban’s export and import facilities. It is estimated that 135 000 jobs will be created in the construction of projects in the corridor. Once the projects are completed a further 85 000 jobs are expected to be created by those businesses that use the new facilities. Source: SA Government Information Service

Interested in more details regarding South Africa’s infrastructure development plan? Click here!

Inefficiency of road freight transport is one of the primary factors that hamper the economy of sub-Saharan Africa. Long delays experienced at border posts are the single biggest contributor towards the slow average movement of freight. Cross-border operations are complicated by the conflicting security objectives of customs and border authorities versus efficiency objectives of transport operators. It furthermore suffers from illegal practices involving truck drivers and border officials. In theory the efficiency of cross-border operations can be improved based on the availability of more accurate and complete information – the latter will be possible if different stakeholders can exchange data between currently isolated systems.

Cross-border trade basically comprises 3 distinct but interlinked layers –

An information layer – in which various trade documentation (purchase order, invoice), cargo and conveyance information (packing list, manifest), customs and government regulatory data (declaration, permits) are exchanged between various supply chain entities and the customs authority. These primarily attest to the legal ownership, contract of carriage, reporting and compliance with customs and other regulatory authority formalities (export and import), and delivery at destination.

A logistics layer – for the collection, consolidation, sealing and conveyance of physical cargo from point of despatch via at least two customs control points (export and import), to deconsolidation and delivery at point of destination.

A financial layer – which refers to the monetary exchange flow from buyer (importer) to seller (exporter) according to the terms and conditions of the sale (INCOTERMS). Hmm… no, this does not include ‘bribe’ money.

All three layers are inter-linked and prone to risk at any point of a given transaction. There is also no silver bullet solution to secure supply chains. Moreover, it is a fallacy that Customs and Border Agencies will ever conquer cross-border crime – simply because there are too many angles to monitor. Furthermore, in order to set up cross—border information exchange and joint enforcement operations it is both legally and politically time-consuming. Criminal elements are not hampered by these ‘institutions’, they simply spot the gaps and forge ahead.

One of the areas requiring customs attention is that of chain of custody. In short this implies the formal adoption of the World Customs Organisation’s SAFE Framework principles. Each party with data that needs to be filed with the government for Customs and security screening purposes has responsibilities. Those responsibilities include –

  • Protecting the physical goods from tampering, theft, and damage.
  • Providing appropriate information to government authorities in a timely and accurate manner for security screening purposes.
  • Protecting the information related to the goods from tampering and unauthorized access. This responsibility applies equally to times before, during and after having custody of the goods.

Tenacent RFID Tag

Tenacent RFID Tag

Security seals are an integral part of the chain of custody. The proper grade and application of the security seal is addressed below. Security seals should be inspected by the receiving party at each change of custody for a cargo-laden container. Inspecting a seal requires visual check for signs of tampering, comparison of the seal’s identification number with the cargo documentation, and noting the inspection in the appropriate documentation. More recently the emergence of certain e-seals and container security devices (CSDs) contribute even further to minimizing the amount of ‘physical’ verification required, as they are able to electronically notify the owner of the goods or government authority in the event of an incidence of tampering.

White Paper - GPS-RFID systems for cross-border management of freight consignments

White Paper – GPS-RFID systems for cross-border management of freight consignments

A group of South African specialist engineers have been working closely with transport authorities, logistics specialists, defense experts and customs authorities across the globe. Their e-seal is patented in no less than 16 high volume countries. It is produced in Singapore, China and Indonesia depending on politics, free-trade agreements and demand. May move some to Brazil and US in time. Proof of concept (POC) initiatives are currently underway in Brazil for rail cargo, US Marine Corps for their p-RFID program and other Department of Defense divisions in the USA, and will shortly be included in one of the GSA agreements making it available to any government department in the US. Further adrift, the e-seal is also currently enjoying interest in Guatemala, Mexico, Canada, Panama, Jordan, Italy, Spain, and Malaysia. Here, in South Africa, a POC was conducted at the 1st autogate at Durban Container Terminal, funded by the North West University, and overseen with successfully achieved objectives by Transnet Port Terminals. For technical details of the RFID seal, click here!

With much anticipated success abroad, how much support will this product attain in the local and sub-Saharan African scene? Government authorities, as well as logistics and supply chain operators are therefore encouraged to study the enclosed ‘white paper’ – Click Here!. It firstly quantifies the size of the problem and estimates the potential economic benefits that will be created by improved cross-border operations. It then proposes a combined GPS/RFID system that can provide the required level of visibility to support improved operational management, resulting in a simultaneous increase in the security and efficiency of cross-border freight operations. A brief cost-benefits analysis is performed to show that the expected benefits from such a system will by far exceed the costs of implementation. Source: Tenacent & iPico

MSC Fabiola - sets new record for Durban container vessel capacity

MSC Fabiola – sets new record for Durban container vessel handling capacity

 

The visit to Durban, a fortnight ago, of the MSC FABIOLA has again raised the limit in terms of container ship sizes to call at the port. The previous largest box ship to call at Durban was the 11,660-TEU MSC Luciana, whereas MSC Fabiola can carry up to 12,562-TEU.

Obviously the ship was not fully laden otherwise the port would not have been able to accommodate the ship. The deepest berths at the Durban Container Terminal are 12.8m and those at Pier 1 are about the same.

MSC Fabiola is a charter vessel and is currently deployed on MSC’s pendulum service between Northern Europe and Singapore via Durban, Cape Town and Ngqura. The rotation is Northern Europe ports, Cape Town, Ngqura, Durban, Singapore, Durban, Ngqura, Northern Europe.

The next objective to aim at is to have the 14,000-TEU box ships deployed on the South African service, defying all previous projections, as indeed has been the case with the 12,500-TEU MSC Fabiola.

Of course, the main obstacle in having these post panamax ships calling at Durban is that the country’s main container port lacks a deepwater berth. This is despite the entrance channel having been dredged and widened several years ago to -19m decreasing to – 16.5m in the harbour inside entrance. In the process South Africa has once again been exposed by rapidly moving circumstances and questions need to be asked as to why the process of providing Durban with deep water berths is being delayed. Source: SAPorts.co.za

Trucks at Transnet Freight Rail's City Deep Terminal (Engineering News)

Trucks at Transnet Freight Rail’s City Deep Terminal (Engineering News)

Following up on last year’s meeting (click here!) of the minds, convened by the JCCI, a recent meeting in Johannesburg placed fresh emphasis on the dilemma which impending changes contemplated in Customs Draft Control Bill will have for the import and logistics industry in particular. The following report carried by Engineering News highlights trade’s concerns which are by no means light weight and should be addressed with some consideration before the Bills come into effect. Gauging from the content below, there is a clear disconnect between business and policy makers.

The closure of Johannesburg’s inland port seemed to be a “done deal” as Parliament deliberated the recently tabled Customs Control Bill that would leave the City Deep container depot invalid, Chamber of Commerce and Industry Johannesburg (JCCI) former president Patrick Corbin said on Friday.

The promulgation of the South African Revenue Services’ (Sars’) newly drafted Customs Control Bill, which, in conjunction with the Customs Duty Bill, would replace the current legislation governing customs operations, would have a far-reaching impact on the cost and efficiencies of doing business in South Africa and other fellow Southern African Customs Union (Sacu) countries, he added.

The Bill, which was the product of a three-year development process within the National Economic Development and Labour Council, declared that all imported goods be cleared and released at first port of entry. This was part of efforts by customs officials and government to root out any diversion and smuggling of goods, ensure greater control of goods moving across borders and eliminate risks to national security.

Speaking at the City Deep Forum, held at the JCCI’s offices in Johannesburg, Corbin noted, however, that City Deep had operated as an inland port for the past 35 years, easing the load on the country’s coastal ports, which were already strained to capacity. Despite customs officials assuring the chamber that the operations and facilities in City Deep/Kaserne would retain its licence as a container depot, he believed customs had failed to recognise the critical role City Deep had played in lowering the cost of business, easing the burden on South Africa’s ports and ensuring ease of movement of goods to neighbouring countries. As customs moved full responsibility of container clearances to the ports, port congestion, inefficiencies, shipping delays and costs would rise, and jobs would be lost and import rail volumes decreased, he noted.

Economist Mike Schussler added that the closure of the City Deep inland port operations would add costs, increase unreliability and induce “hassles”, as the Durban port did not have the capacity to handle the extra volumes and its productivity and efficiencies were “questionable” compared with other ports.

“The volume of containers going to overstay or being stopped for examination in City Deep [will] need to be handled by [the coastal] ports. If they can’t cope with the volume at the moment, how are they going to handle increased volumes,” Iprop director Dennis Trotter questioned. He noted that only the containers cleared 72 hours prior to arrival would be allocated to rail transport. Those not cleared three days before arrival would be pushed onto road transport to prevent blocking and delaying rail operations.

This, Schussler said, would also contribute – along with port tariffs and the cost of delays – to higher costs, as road transport was more expensive than rail.

He pointed out that South Africa was deemed third-highest globally in terms of transport pricing. It would also result in less rail capacity returning for export from Johannesburg, further leading to increased volumes moving by road from City Deep to Durban.

Sacu countries, such as Botswana, would also be burdened with higher costs as they relied on City Deep as an inland port. Trotter noted that the region would experience loss of revenue and resultant job losses. Over 50% of South Africa’s economy was located closer to Gauteng than the coastal ports. Johannesburg alone accounted for 34% of the economy, said Schussler, questioning the viability of removing the option of City Deep as a dry port.

However, unfazed by the impending regulations, Transnet continued to inject over R1-billion into expansion and development opportunities at City Deep/Kaserne. Corbin commented that Transnet had accepted the assurances from customs that “nothing would change and the boxes would still be able to move seamlessly once cleared.” The City of Johannesburg’s manager of transport planning Daisy Dwango said the State-owned freight group was ramping up to meet forecast demand of the City Deep/Kaserne depot.

The terminal’s capacity would be increased from the current 280 000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) a year, to 400 000 TEUs a year by 2016, increasing to 700 000 TEUs a year by 2019. Transnet aimed to eventually move to “overcapacity” of up to 1.2-million TEUs a year. Dwango said projections have indicated that by 2021, the City Deep/Kaserne terminals would handle between 900 000 and one-million TEUs a year. Source: Engineering News