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South Africa flood devastation: Transnet works to restore port and rail operations

Christian Fernsby |
Transnet is working hard to ensure that port and rail services return to full operation after flooding in KwaZulu-Natal interrupted operations at the Durban Port and surrounding railway lines last week.

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The port is one of the biggest in the Southern African region and is a gateway to the country’s economic hub, Gauteng.

“The port is critical to the stability of the South African economy and Transnet will continue to work with all customers and industry to ensure that the logistics chain is enabled, in the interests of the economy,” said the State owned rail, port and pipeline company.

“The priority focus for the Transnet team has been emergency recovery and stabilisation of operations. The Port of Durban has been operational…and the overall performance continues to improve with strict monitoring in place.

“As at [Tuesday] morning, the port had handled 82 vessels. Marine capacity has since increased to 98% after the reopening of the N2 going south,” Transnet said in a statement.

The company said the torrential rain and flooding in the eThekwini Municipality had caused the bulk of damage to the Bayhead Road leading into the port’s container terminal and the Island View Precinct.

“Bayhead Road has since been stabilised with one lane going in each direction. In the next two weeks, the two additional will be stabilised for more efficient traffic flow. In the long term, the canal bridge will be opened up, along with the widening of the entire Bayhead Road.

“The next phase of the port’s rehabilitation is expected to be completed at the end of April and the long term solution is expected to be completed over the next 12 months,” the statement read.

Transnet explained that marine and landside operations that were impacted by the debris caused by the flooding is also a priority.

“Clean-up operations have commenced and the clean-up of large size waterside debris is expected to be cleared by the end of this week. Solid waste clean-up operations along the shoreline of the port will continue for an extended period due to widespread pollution.

“Cargo owners have been requested to prioritise the evacuation of their containers from the port to clear space inside the terminals. Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) has also identified sites around the port precinct to which containers can be evacuated to free up space within the port,” Transnet said.

Meanwhile, Transnet says although pipelines continue to operate normally, rail operations in the Durban area continue to be heavily impacted by the resultant damage the floods caused.

“Rail operations remain suspended between Cato Ridge, the north and south coast lines. The section between Cato Ridge and Durban on the mainline has been impacted by severe washaways and mudslides, particularly in areas where communities have encroached on the rail reserve. This highlights the dangers of communities building too close to the railway line,” Transnet said.

Clean up of operational areas and further assessments are continuing with preliminary estimates indicating that resumption of single line operations on the mainline may take up to some seven weeks.

“Contingency plans are in development and repair of the railway line remains a priority focus area moving forward. TFR is engaging the relevant stakeholders around the handling of export containers from Gauteng to offload in Cato Ridge and road-haul exports to the Durban [Port] Precinct,” Transnet said.


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