Regular readers will have noticed that FleetWatch has been reporting regularly of late on progress being made at the Port of Durban to alleviate truck congestion and smooth the way for trucks at the port. FleetWatch welcomes all the improvements because, as we have often stated, the Port of Durban has been a huge hassle factor for truckers over many years.
The congestion and delays have been particularly vexing to truck drivers who in the past have often had to spend days in queues waiting to load or offload. During this time, they get no quality rest and more often than not leave the port tired and fatigued making them a danger to themselves and others on the roads.
The latest news from the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) at the Port of Durban says the introduction of an off-site truck staffing facility by a private bulk terminal in the Island View Precinct is already showing a positive impact in alleviating truck congestion in the Bayhead Precinct and surrounding roads.
This month Transnet also extended its own truck booking system to the Durban Multi-purpose Terminal (MPT), the third Transnet terminal to come on board after Durban Container Terminal Pier 2 and Pier.
The Durban MPT booking system enables transporters to book delivery slots 48 hours in advance or cancel a booking two hours prior to the time slot, while the private bulk terminal’s truck staging facility at the Old Durban Airport south of Durban requires trucks to be pre-processed before calling at the port.
Truck appointment systems are being implemented to alleviate truck congestion in roads surrounding the port and are among the initiatives being spearheaded by the Port of Durban Decongestion Task Team.
According to Moses Motlohi, general manager of the Port of Durban, there have been positive results since the activation of the interim staging facility at the airport. “For the week ending 4 September, we had no queues and access to the facility and hit rate for the booked slots have improved,” he says.
The bulk staging facility accommodates between 90 to100 trucks at any given time and no bulk tipper truck is permitted directly into the terminal or port precinct without a booking reference for each day and a sticker on the windscreen. Each customer will be allocated a number of trucks per day as per the terminal’s operations and shipping plan.
“This process will allow the terminal to call in trucks in manageable batches helping to alleviate the congestion on Bayhead Road. This initiative combined with the recently launched booking system, will help with volume smoothing into the port,” says Motlohi.
In recent weeks TNPA, through various forums including the Port of Durban Decongestion Task Team and the port’s daily virtual operations meeting with all stakeholders, has escalated calls for all businesses in the port to revise their protocols around giving early warnings of any business disruptions. This would ensure that others who might be affected by the after-effects of such disruptions can be alerted.
A joint planning meeting was also held with businesses in the Cutler Complex at which the management of the complex committed to getting their users to implement their own booking system. “In the next three months, we hope to have 80% of the port having adopted a truck booking system,” Motlohi says, adding that there is still a lot of work to be done in this space.
“However, through our collaborative approach with stakeholders, I remain optimistic while working on the TNPA port’s over-arching booking system. We hope that ultimately, we will realise the benefit of having a broader booking system where trucks will be regulated in this fashion.”
Motlohi has also thanked law enforcement agencies within the port, including eThekwini Metro, SAPS and private security, for their efforts. “They must be commended for their sterling job in ensuring that trucks destined for terminals affected by operational disruptions, remain compliant with traffic laws. Law and order are essential in the port.”
Durban Container Terminal Pier 2 has also deployed more straddle carriers into operation to improve handling at the terminal and to help reduce vessel and truck terminal dwell times. “The deployment of efficient and reliable fleet together with the mandatory appointment system will result in better port efficiencies,” says Motlohi.
TNPA has also announced that the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) between TNPA and eThekwini Municipality was signed this month, paving the way for construction of a second port access road to Bayhead and Island View.
The Port of Durban Decongestion Task Team involves a broad range of private and public sector organisations involved in the port. Since late 2019, the multi-disciplinary task team has been collaborating on efforts to alleviate congestion in the port’s surrounding road networks, which negatively impact on truckers and communities. Through nine targeted workstreams, the task team has adopted an integrated approach to tackle the root causes of Bayhead traffic related congestion and to ensure improved coordination, planning, operations, cargo flows and capacity.
Watch this video where task team chairman Moshe Motlohi provides an update on developments as at the end of August 2020. I encourage drivers and operators to listen to his plans (at around the 5.00min mark on the video) regarding bringing truck drivers into the ‘Ubuntu’ concept where they are appreciated as not just drivers but as important players in the value chain – and treated as such. Yes, Yes, Yes. This is the way to go!