Truckers and TPT address Pier 2 challenges

Moving containers in and out of Pier 2 – the home of the Durban Container Terminal (DCT) – has been a major challenge and container hauliers are fuming as “thousands of rands go down the drain each day” because of Transnet Port Terminals’ (TPT) failure to perform. Amid cries of incompetence and lack of accountability, the Durban Harbour Carriers’ Association (DHCA) has spent a week of meetings with TPT trying to force through some solutions to the numerous problems facing them. “We have been inundated with challenges at Pier 2 in the past two months,” said DHCA chairman, Sue Moodley. “And, despite the trucking industry making numerous attempts to get Pier 2 to listen to their request, this has fallen on deaf ears.” This has resulted in DHCA being flooded with e-mails from hauliers complaining about the continuous congestion issues which are faced daily at Pier 2.

“The association has heard these cries for help,” said Moodley, “and has decided to address the matter with the intention of saving the truckers from eventually closing their doors. If the terminals continue to perform at an unacceptable level on landside, this would contribute to the decline of the economy and the transport industry would be seen as a sector of limited or no growth.”
Moodley has been very closely monitoring the situation at Pier 2 for the past three months. “And we have realised that there are no contingency plans in place,” she added. “Whilst we addressed the port congestion and turnaround times in our previous general meeting, the trucking industry was not convinced that the situation was going to change. The reason for this is that Pier 2 congestion and terminal issues were the same as previously.” Therefore Moodley decided that the association needed to engage closely with Pier 2 and highlight the negative impact that the truckers were facing due to the port and congestion problems. “I identified the issues which were experienced and raised the issues which were prevalent before the management team,” she said – pointing to these as:

* No mitigation strategy for Bayhead road congestion;
* ‘A check’ lanes were not being controlled or managed properly, and the issue of bribery seemed apparent;
* The spread of containers at the towers was a challenge for truckers as they had to pick up the majority of containers from two towers instead of three;
* Larger vessels for import and export containers were being discharged with larger parcel sizes and there was no strategy in place to facilitate a quick turnaround time for the trucker to collect these containers and move to the client;
* Truckers were unable to easily access these containers due to the high congestion rate, and transporters requested leniency on export stacking and import collection. And, due to these issues, she added, the transport industry was being faced with:
* Enormous costs – which include additional and unnecessary drivers’ wages due to waiting in queues for anything between 8 and 14 hours;
* Loss of productivity time as trucks are not turning around and meeting clients’ deliveries;
* Frustrated clients who do not receive cargo as requested;
* Transporters often rescheduling deliveries, which pushes out timelines on an ongoing basis;

“We had a special meeting in which the above issues and many more were addressed, and Pier 2 expressed their intention to set the matter right,” Moodley told FTW. “The truckers have put their issues on the table, and Pier 2 has been allowed a week to come back with their recommendations. “We will then allow them to document a plan and enforce this plan so that we are not in the same situation in the future.” Joe Madlala, the TPT’s Pier 2 terminal manager, confirmed this to FTW. “We agree we have to map out a strategy to meet the challenges,” he said. But he also pointed out that there were sometimes two sides to the situation. “There are also problems with the likes of c&f (clearing & forwarding) agents not nominating the container deliveries on time,” he said.
“And we need, for example, to get outside container depots to work 24/7. But it’s going to be a long process. “We need to find short-term solutions amongst ourselves that will meet these challenges.”