25 April, 2018
Plan for longer shipping lead times
storm damage that the port of Durban
suffered in October last year, along with
mounting inefficiencies at all South African
ports, has resulted in even longer shipping
lead times than previously.
shipping companies are now avoiding Durban
where possible, travelling instead from Cape
Town and Port Elizabeth via Jebel Ali, in
Dubai, to regions including East Africa.
While this constitutes a long detour it
could nevertheless result in shorter delays,
and more reliable lead times, than the more
are some of the insights from our Chief
Operations Officer Thinus Ferreira, who
advises importers and exporters to keep even
more buffer stock than in the past, plan
even further ahead to ensure that their
operations can keep running, and communicate
with their suppliers, including Dolphin Bay,
well ahead of time.
storms damaged several cranes at the port of
Durban. Specialists from Germany have been
flown in to fix them, a process that should
be finished at the end of this month. This
should alleviate the congestion to some
degree, but inefficiencies are known to be
mounting at all South African ports. A
recent news report stated that Durban had
several thousand containers awaiting
shipment, a large proportion of them not yet
assigned to a firm loading schedule.
one should be planning for a worst case
scenario instead of the normal
eight-week lead time.
delays are placing such pressure on shipping
lines that some are offloading their cargo
at a port without loading before moving on
to their next destination, Thinus says. This
cargo must then wait for another vessel,
shipping companies are now using much bigger
vessels, to carry more cargo, and sailing
via Jebel Ali, an extremely efficient port.
The detour adds about 10 days to the trip
but can save time, such are the
inefficiencies at Durban in particular.
is the busiest port in South Africa as all
cargo destined for Gauteng passes through
it. Some commentators insist it needs to be
expanded, while other say that ports in
other countries of a similar size cope with
a far larger volume of containers.
has to change," Thinus says. "However, it is
up to Transnet to take action. The repairs
at Durban will help to some degree, but the
inefficiencies will remain a problem.
is an unpredictable exercise even at best,"
he points out. "We have had delays even at
Singapore, a world-class port."
reports have stated that the knock-on effect
caused by the damage in Durban has resulted
in ships waiting up to 10 days to enter Cape
Town harbour, as docking schedules are
missed and need to be reorganised.
"Shipping is a lucky draw," Thinus
concludes. "One consignment might take only
seven days to reach its destination, but the
next could take 35. Ideally, one should now
be planning for a worst-case scenario
instead of the normal eight-week lead time."
Source: Dolphin Bay Chemicals