The Durban port may have a compulsory truck booking system in place by April 2019, Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) CE Nozipho Sithole tells Engineering News Online.
In an interview on the sidelines of the Transport Forum Special Interest Group, in Durban, this week, she was adamant that TPT had made great strides in the past year.
One achievement was the introduction of a truck booking system to try to stem the infamous traffic jams on Durban’s Bayhead road leading to the Durban Container Terminal.
Sithole conceded that although this had initially met with resistance and utilisation levels were just 20%, these were now at 45% with the benefits being felt by transport companies.
The target utilisation is 80%.
She said that once all systems were in place and a few gremlins were removed from the system, the truck booking system would become compulsory.
One of the impediments was the clearing of containers prior to transportation. Sithole said TPT was facilitating discussions between shipping lines and the South African Revenue Service so this could be streamlined.
The mandatory truck booking system will include a utilisation reward and penalty system that will discourage abuse of bookings and not keeping appointments.
Sithole added that both a booking system and less congestion hinged on aligning working hours between depots and TPT’s terminals to ensure an even spread of trucks entering the port.
At present, depots are often closed while terminals are still operating.
“The shipping industry has been very positive about this. Now we just need to come up with a business case that will show the benefits to trucking companies. Spreading the influx of trucks will allow for better turnaround times which should appeal to them,” she said.
Sithole said that, despite setting a truck turnaround target of 35 minutes within terminals, this had not yet been reached.
Alex Hill, part of the national executive of the South African Association of Ship Operators and Agents, or SAASOA, said that, at the height of the delays in Bayhead road five years ago, various stakeholders had agreed on a “reasonable” total truck turnaround time of 90 minutes from the time a truck arrived at the A check where it was staged to exiting the port.
He said that 40% to 50% of trucks were still exceeding this.
In January, an average of 1 970 trucks moved through the Pier 2 container terminal which handled an average of 2 100 container moves. 1 400 trucks exceeded the 90-minute truck turnaround time.
In February, 2 200 trucks called at the same terminal, which handled 2 900 moves per day. 1 200 trucks exceeded the 90-minute truck turnaround time.
“But the good news is that we are coming from an environment where trucks in Durban were standing [for] 24 to 36 hours trying to drop off or pick up a container 18 months ago. Now we have got to the point where fewer trucks exceed even six hours.
“So, hats off to the current management team to have achieved a lot in a relatively short period. But we seem to have hit a brick wall where we don’t seem to be able to move forward from where we are now,” he said.