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Ports put robust plans in place to handle citrus exports

Home Agriculture Ports put robust plans in place to handle citrus exports

IN a season that poses many challenges for South African farmers, Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) says it is “all systems go” on their side as the container terminals at Durban and Port Elizabeth (Gqeberha) begin handling citrus exports.

TPT says that the container terminals will be open over 24 hours, and have dedicated lanes prioritising refrigerated containers at the gates. Operators of lifting equipment are currently undergoing a multiskilling process that will enable them to obtain multiple machine licences in order to create flexibility ahead of the peak season in July.  National berthing plans are to be updated daily and shared with industry, in order to avoid excessive open stack days where vessels are delayed in other terminals.  Further to this, the repairing and maintenance of plug points as well as lighting have been concluded.

South Africa, amongst the top suppliers of citrus in the world, has battled with rising operational costs and disruptions following the European Union’s (EU) cold treatment regulations, which were imposed on South African fruit in July last year.  Despite these challenges, the country has continued to increase its fruit exports.

According to Transnet Port Terminals (TPT’s) General Manager Commercial and Planning, Michelle van Buren Schele, “The terminal’s demand is a derived demand service, in which we only grow when the industries we support to grow. As such, we endeavour to provide value to our customers, so that we can celebrate their success”. She stated that improving efficiency was key to a prosperous citrus season, adding that there were robust programs in place, aimed at improving equipment availability and reliability throughout the season.

Last year, Transnet Port Terminals handled 3.7% more citrus exports compared to 2021 despite the KwaZulu Natal floods and new EU regulations.  In total, TPT moved 128 374 forty-foot equivalent units (FEU) across its container terminals.  This year, Transnet Port Terminals is looking to continue on this trajectory and create avenues for further growth.

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