The levels of services at Transnet’s two ports in KwaZulu-Natal, Durban and Richards Bay, which were held by shutdowns, looting and the burning of businesses last week, have improved since Thursday, Transnet said on Friday.
The South African rail, port and pipeline company’s spokesperson, Ayanda Shezi, said that terminal operations at Durban and Richards Bay were slowly beginning to normalize as the number of employees reporting for shifts started to increase following the restoration of public transport in parts of KwaZulu-Natal.
Richards Bay had managed to clear all shipping backlogs. Terminal operations at Durban also continued to improve. Marine service operations to service vessels had been available throughout last week.
The Transnet pipeline network also remained operational.
Shezi said that shortages of fuel and food, as well as the remaining road closures in the vicinity of the port of Durban, continued to constrain the rest of the supply chain, because trucks could not enter and exit the port, resulting in backlogs.
In Richards Bay, where trucks handled dry bulk commodities, truck movements were under way.
Although no security incidents had been reported in the past 24 hours on Friday, Transnet was on high alert and additional security and the protection of critical infrastructure were in place.
On the rail side, work was under way to restart the suspended Natcor line between Joburg and eThekwini. Testing of the line was under way.
Transnet said it would resume rail services as soon as it was safe to do so.
Shezi said a 24-hour Nerve Centre hotline remained operational to respond to security-related incidents.
Road Freight Association (RFA) chief executive Gavin Kelly said on Friday afternoon that they were delighted that the N3 had reopened to traffic.
“While we anticipate some delays and congestion due to the high traffic volumes, we are now able to resume the vital task of delivering goods both countrywide and beyond our borders.
“We are doing our best to get essentials to where they are needed and to address the massive backlog that has occurred as a result of the happenings over the past week,” said Kelly.
The association said the transport sector was doing its best under trying circumstances to ensure that no one endured food, fuel and medicine shortages as they worked closely with their compatriots in the retail sector to allow them to re-supply stores.
Kelly said the N3 was a strategic corridor where the value of goods that travelled on this highway alone was estimated to be about R3 billion a day.