The COVID-19 national lockdown has seen the Port of Durban harness the power of technology to bring together a range of stakeholders to address port issues.

Every day the port has held a Daily Virtual Stakeholder Operations meeting which is led by GM: Port of Durban, Moshe Motlohi and includes representatives of shipping lines, all terminal operators, the trucking fraternity and depots.

The meeting enables every stakeholder to be kept up to speed with daily operational plans and to address bottlenecks as the port navigates through this challenging period.

Motlohi says: “We use this opportunity to bring together all the brains to look at how we should interpret the government regulations as they are unfolding and how we can ensure that the port responds responsibly in a manner that firstly keeps the safety of our people as the prime objective and, secondly, to assist in keeping the wheels of the economy turning.

Moshe Motlohi
Moshe Motlohi

“We have really found value in this because for the first time we have players who have never met now coming together to look at the entire port plan and identifying the bottlenecks as they shift from one node to another. The insight derived from this has been useful because we have been able to advise authorities around the impact of some of these regulations.”

Participants in the 30-minute virtual call are:  the South African Association of Ship Operators and Agents (SAASOA);  South African Association of Freight Forwarders (SAAFF); Transnet divisions National Ports Authority, Port Terminals and Freight Rail; the South African Sugar Association, FPT, Bidvest Port Terminals, TATA Chemicals, Ocean Africa, SA Bulk Terminals, Grindrod and the Citrus Growers Association.

CEO of SAASOA, Peter Besnard, said of Transnet’s effort: “It would not be proper from a SAASOA perspective to ignore the effort that has been applied during the many stressful weeks of disaster management, lockdown and now the adjustment to lower alert levels. Their enthusiasm at each meeting and on the quay has been unbelievable even though they too are risking contracting the dreaded COVID-19 virus to satisfy the needs of the many port users. To conclude, we thank you all for a truly magnificent effort to keep the wheels turning during extremely tough conditions.”

Other multi-stakeholder collaboration continuing during the lockdown includes the Port of Durban Decongestion Task Team which sees various private and public sector representatives working to tackle traffic pressure and congestion in the Port of Durban’s Bayhead Precinct and surrounding road networks.