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Supply Chain

Durban port working to clear backlog of thousands of containers

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Durban natural disaster aftermath

Durban port will, within days, clear the backlog of thousands of containers that came to a grinding halt during the disastrous floods that lashed KwaZulu-Natal’s road, rail and port infrastructure last week.

Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan assured businesses and local manufacturers during a joint media briefing with Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Ebrahim Patel, at the city’s port on Tuesday afternoon that the backlog of between 8000 and 9000 containers would be cleared within the next six days. He said the port had moved from the emergency phase of the recovery process and was now “fully operational”.

Gordhan attended a meeting with Transnet, Eskom and eThekwini Municipality officials at the port where he was briefed on the status of its business recovery plan.

He said between 40 and 60 ships had been serviced – loaded and offloaded – in the port since Saturday (16 April) after a 72-hour clean-up operation to remove debris, including logs and appliances such as fridges that had washed into the port. Three rivers and at least 52 canals run into the port’s waters.

“That continues to improve with each day. Durban harbour is functional – ships bringing in imports are being serviced and ships taking out exports, food and fruit are being serviced,” he said.

“As a result of the impact on Bayhead Road, we had a situation where some 8000 to 9000 containers had accumulated because trucks could not reach the harbour area. Within the next six to eight days those containers will be cleared,” Gordhan said.

“The next work that is being done by the port authority is to ensure that the port remains in a state that it can be used. A dredger that was on its way to Cape Town is now on its way to Durban so it can clear the harbour.”

He said reinforcements had been placed in Bayhead Road which had been impacted by a 60m “crater”. This key port road was now accepting some truck and vehicle traffic, although a temporary route through the Bluff to Island View was also still in use, he said.

Gordhan estimated that extensive damage to Transnet’s rail network to Cato Ridge, which incurred the worst damage, and along the North and South Coast lines, would take from two to eight weeks to repair, depending on the severity of the damage to specific sections of track. He said the Transnet fuel line that transported fuel inland had been briefly impacted due to an electricity outage, however, it was operational within 24 hours and was currently working as normal.

“As far as fuel and KZN is concerned, there is no risk of fuel shortages and the pipeline is functioning as well,” he said.

Patel added that the government would be meeting with business leaders in the province to discuss the economic recovery plan. Businesses are concerned about interruptions to logistics services, the impact on their supply chain and manufacturing processes, and the physical damages caused to infrastructure which also impacts operations.

“The physical damage caused makes it difficult to continue operations for at least a period. eThekwini’s largest industrial plant, Toyota, has been severely affected in terms of the water damage caused and in terms of staff because of disruptions to transport systems, damage to homes, and loss of life.”

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Logistics

New Multimodal Inland Port Association Launched at Transport Forum

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Railway freight train in South Africa

A significant milestone was reached in the South African logistics sector with the recent launch of the Multimodal Inland Port Association (MIPA). This new association was launched during the Transport Forum, an online event on 23 May 2024 attended by over 250 delegates, with a distinguished panel from industry, Transnet and academia. The event marked what many are calling the dawn of a rail renaissance in the country.

MIPA addresses a critical need in South Africa’s logistics landscape, which is increasingly grappling with rising costs and severe congestion. The association aims to act as the unified voice for inland ports across the nation, focusing on promoting, supporting, and advocating for the increased movement of cargo from road to rail.

Warwick Lord, MIPA

“Transporting more cargo by rail has become an imperative, considering the growing cost of logistics in South Africa. It is no longer just a nice-to-have,” says Warwick Lord, MIPA Chairman.

MIPA aims to reform the rail industry through private investment, foster trade activities that meet social objectives, and facilitate the crucial transfer of goods from road to rail. By optimising industrial and logistics activities through efficient multimodalism, logistics costs will be reduced, and efficiency will be improved.

Formed by leading entities in the transportation sector, including the Cato Ridge Inland Port, Tambo Springs Development Company, Portfutures, Autoforce, Mac Group, Cape Town Inland Port, the Cape Winelands Airport, the Musina Intermodal Terminal, RailRunner South Africa, and RailRunner Services, the association is committed to collaborating on best practices, particularly in through private sector participation (PSP). It will work closely with government and state-owned enterprises.

“We aim to create one voice for inland ports, driving workable multimodal solutions that deliver efficiency, cost reduction, and much-needed resilience to the South African supply chain. By doing so, we can mitigate the impact of external shocks and ensure stability in the logistics sector,” says Lord.

MIPA’s strategy to drive more cargo from road to rail includes using innovative multi-nodal technology and improving collaboration with other freight hubs and stakeholders, to optimise each supply chain link from a cost and efficiency perspective.

“Inland ports increase accessibility through long-distance transport corridors, leading to lower distribution costs and improved capacity by consolidating freight volumes,” explains Lord. “These multi-modal terminals can handle large amounts of cargo continuously, allowing sea ports to extend their cargo base, which is crucial given the increasing size of vessels.”

Furthermore, inland ports provide significant dedicated logistics developments, proximity to rail and highways, ample truck parking, and less traffic congestion.

Lord says MIPA is dedicated to facilitating free trade and promoting sustainable practices. The association will support its members in complying with sustainable development goals and the SADC Vision 2050.

Dr Juanita Maree

Dr Juanita Maree, CEO of the South African Association of Freight Forwarders (SAAFF), highlighted the launch of MIPA: “Our logistics network is at a turning point, with more alignment across the country than ever before. By working together, we can achieve significant advancements. It is crucial to continuously foster dialogue, share insights, and raise awareness to build a sustainable supply chain for the future.”

According to Lord, MIPA will aim to expand its membership, encouraging more stakeholders to join and contribute to the conversation.

“The business community plays a vital role in developing and facilitating trade within the logistics and supply chain environment. We will lobby warehousing, transport, and consulting businesses through these channels to join MIPA. We will also seek to include State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) – as they are significant players nationally and globally – while fostering a close-working environment with the government,” concludes Lord.

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Freight Forwarding

LTL Shipping for Small Businesses in South Africa

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Orange delivery truck with boxes in the back vector image

What is LTL Shipping?

LTL (Less-Than-Truckload) Shipping is a method of transporting goods where the shipment does not fill an entire truck.

Instead, multiple shippers share the truck’s space, each paying only for the portion they use. It stands in contrast to FTL (Full-Truckload) shipping, where one shipper rents the entire truck. While other forms of freight tailor to large businesses LTL is best suited for small businesses and private citizens.

Why is LTL Shipping So Important for Small Businesses in SA?

1. LTL is Cost-Effective

Instead of paying for an entire truck, businesses only pay for the space their cargo occupies. This shared approach significantly reduces shipping costs.

2. Flexibility

Businesses aren’t restricted to large shipments. They can send smaller batches as and when needed, aiding in better inventory management.

3. Increased Frequency

Without the need to accumulate goods for a full truckload, businesses can ship more frequently, enhancing customer satisfaction through quick delivery times.

How Does LTL Shipping Work in South Africa?

1. The Initial Pick-up

The shipping process starts with the transport company picking up the goods from the business premises. Since these are smaller shipments, pick-up schedules are typically more flexible.

2. Consolidation

The cargo is then taken to a local terminal where it’s combined with other shipments heading in the same direction.

3. Intermediate Handling

Unlike FTL where goods are directly transported to their destination, LTL shipments might be offloaded and reloaded onto different trucks at various distribution points. This process ensures optimal space utilisation on each vehicle.

4. Delivery

Once the consolidated truck reaches the destination city or region, shipments are offloaded at another terminal. They are then loaded onto smaller delivery trucks for final delivery.

Advantages of LTL Shipping for Small Businesses in South Africa

1. Reduced Costs

As previously mentioned, paying only for space used can substantially cut shipping expenses. This is crucial to businesses such as small businesses that don’t have the cash reserves typically seen in larger businesses.

2. Professional Handling

Given that LTL shipments undergo multiple handlings at terminals, there’s often a higher standard of packaging and care. What this translates into is less risk of damage or loss of your cargo.

3. Tracking Capabilities

Many LTL carriers offer advanced tracking systems, enabling businesses to know the real-time location of their goods.

4. Additional Services

1. Inside Delivery: Gone are the days of your items being left curbside, vulnerable to theft or weather conditions. With inside delivery, your freight is brought directly into your home, office, or designated area, ensuring it reaches its final destination safely.

2. Liftgate Service: Ever had a heavy shipment that seemed impossible to unload? No worries! Liftgate service offers a hydraulic lift to safely and efficiently lower your items from the truck to the ground. It’s a back-saver and a time-saver all rolled into one!

3. Notification Services: Stay in the loop with real-time notifications about your shipment’s status. Whether it’s an ETA update or a delivery confirmation, these timely alerts keep you informed every step of the way.

How to Choose LTL Provider in South Africa

1. Do Your Research

Several transport companies offer LTL shipping in South Africa. Businesses need to research, compare, and understand the specific offerings of each. Additionally, it’s important to take a step back and have a hard look at the LTL providers track record to ensure the LTL provider can reliability meet your shipping needs.

2. Negotiate

Given the competitive nature of the industry, there’s often room for negotiation, especially if the business plans on regular shipments.

3. Check for Compliance & Insurance

When you’re picking an LTL provider in South Africa, don’t forget to dig a bit into the boring stuff, such as making sure they’re up to standard on all the legal and safety rules.

First off, you’ll want to check that they’ve got full insurance coverage for different kinds of goods. Trust me, you don’t want to be left picking up the pieces if something goes wrong during shipping.

Make sure they’re following all South Africa’s transport and safety laws to the letter. It’s not just about dodging fines or legal headaches, it’s about knowing your goods are in safe and responsible hands during their journey.

So go ahead, ask them about their certifications and safety records. It’s a small step that could save you a lot of trouble down the road.

Conclusion

At the end of the day if you’re running a small business in South Africa and don’t need a whole truck to move your items, LTL is your new best friend. It’s budget-friendly and extremely flexible, perfect for getting your products where they need to go without breaking the bank.

But don’t just jump into it take a little time to understand how LTL works and pick the right shipping partner.

It’s much like dating, you’ve got to find ‘the one’ that will treat your goods right and keep your customers happy. A little homework now will pay off big time in keeping your supply chain smooth and your customers smiling.

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Freight Forwarding

The Top 5 Benefits of Railway Freight Transportation

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Railway freight train in South Africa

In the world of moving stuff around, there’s something special about railway freight transportation. It’s like the unsung hero of hauling goods over long distances, along with the other five different modes of transportation in freight forwarding. Think of it as one of the Marvel superheroes regarding the transportation of goods.

Table of contents

In this article, we’ll be exploring:

Let’s get started.

What is Railway Freight Transportation?

So, imagine goods and stuff getting hauled on trains. That’s railway freight transportation for you. It’s been around for ages, evolving from those old steam engines to modern marvels that crisscross continents. Trains hauling cargo? Yep, not hauling humans, but definitely hauling cargo.

The Importance of Railway Freight Transportation

Why would we care about railway freight transportation? Think of railway freight transportation as the backbone of how stuff gets around. It’s the way raw materials, finished products, and all sorts of things make their journey. This mode of transport is known for being super reliable and consistent, which helps keep trade, industries, and economies humming.

It’s the heavyweight champion when it comes to carrying big loads. Think coal, minerals, and those grains that end up as your morning cereal. It’s also the magic that connects landlocked spots to those big, bustling ports, opening doors to global markets.

The Top 5 Benefits of Railway Freight Transportation

Railway freight transportation isn’t perfect and comes with its own challenges, however, it does provide us with a fair number of benefits too. The top five are listed below:

1.     Money Saver

Here’s the cool part – trains are like bulk carriers of the transportation world. They can haul so much stuff in one go that it ends up being cheaper to move things by rail, especially over long distances.

2.     Earth-Friendly

Trains are the eco-warriors of transportation. They’re like the zen masters of carbon emissions. Trains emit way fewer greenhouse gases than trucks and planes per unit of cargo. So, going for trains helps cut down on the planet’s frown lines.

3.     Always On Time and Safe

Trains are like the clockwork buddies of cargo transport. They’re known for sticking to schedules and being reliable. Plus, they’ve got a lower risk of accidents compared to roads, so it’s a safer way to move your goods.

4.     Super Long-Distance Magic

Need to move things really, really far? Trains are your go-to pals. They’re like the marathon runners of hauling goods across countries and continents. Fewer pit stops, less hassle, and tons of efficiency.

5.     Traffic Tamer

You know that traffic headache we all feel? Trains help ease the pain. By moving some cargo from trucks to trains, we’re giving the roads some breathing space. That means smoother traffic, fewer road jams, and happier drivers.

Final thoughts

When it comes to moving stuff, railway freight transportation is like that reliable friend you can always count on. It’s budget-friendly, planet-friendly, and just a rock star at getting things from A to B.

As businesses look for smart, eco-friendly ways to move things, railway freight transportation steps up as a real champ. It’s like having your cake and eating it too – efficient, cost-effective, and a friend to the environment.

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