Reshaping Cape Town Port for Global Competitiveness
Stakeholders from Tru-Cape, Ceres Fruit Growers, Two-a-Day Group, Dutoit Agri, and Link Supply Management recently met with Western Cape Premier Alan Winde to discuss the future of Cape Town’s port. The meeting, attended by Mireille Wenger, Western Cape provincial minister of finance and economic opportunities, and other government officials, addressed the challenges faced by the port and the potential solution of privatization.
Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing expressed appreciation for the Western Cape government’s efforts to address risks during the current fruit harvesting season. Calla du Toit, a fruit producer and procurement manager at Tru-Cape, expressed optimism about the industry’s future, emphasizing the need for external help in resolving port issues.
During the meeting at Dutoit Agri’s offices in Ceres, Chris Knoetze, managing director of Link Supply Chain Management, highlighted the inefficiencies in the port, stating that these inefficiencies cost the economy billions of rand annually. He pointed out the lack of investment in infrastructure, including essential equipment like rubber-tyred gantry cranes and straddle carriers, contributing to delays and decreased productivity.
Knoetze also mentioned the impact of poor equipment maintenance and the loss of specialized skills in Transnet, which affected the port’s ability to adapt and plan for delays caused by weather conditions. According to a recent benchmarking study by the Port Regulator of South Africa, waiting times for vessels outside the port increased significantly, while crane productivity decreased, and vessel turnaround time extended.
Wenger emphasized the urgency of the matter, stating that 55% of agricultural exports come from the Western Cape, making efficient port operations crucial for export growth. She reported the inefficiencies of the port to the Port Regulator of South Africa and called for increased pressure on private sector participation.
Glen Steyn, an economist investigating business ease with the port of Cape Town, advocated for accelerating efforts to involve the private sector. He emphasized the importance of selecting the right partner, considering Cape Town’s status as a cool port with a focus on the cold chain and refrigerated containers.
In conclusion, the stakeholders underscored the need for urgent action to address port inefficiencies, with a consensus that privatization could be the key to resolving the challenges and enhancing global competitiveness in the South African food industry.