South Africa’s container supply chains face a new challenge as the aftermath of Cyclone Belal disrupts operations at the Port Louis transshipment hub in Mauritius. The reliance on a transshipment terminal in a third country reveals vulnerabilities in the system, highlighting the need for resilient solutions.
Service Adjustments Amidst Frustration
Delays in South Africa’s primary gateways of Durban and Cape Town have prompted carriers to make significant service adjustments. Maersk, a leading shipping company, announced the replacement of its direct call at Cape Town on the FEW6 Asia-south/west Africa service with a new feeder service, the Cape Town Express, linking Port Louis and Cape Town.
Challenges and Adaptations
Exports from Cape Town bound for Asia face redirection through Port Louis for transshipment onto vessels in the Safari service. However, recent productivity challenges in Durban and delays in Port Louis due to Cyclone Belal have necessitated changes. Maersk’s decision to skip the eastbound Safari call at Port Louis underscores the urgency to maintain schedules amidst disruptions.
The 8,700 to San Felipe will sail directly from Durban to the Far East to ensure timeliness. Cape Town exports destined for Port Louis will now be loaded onto the Mendelssohn, and deployed on the M-Express Asia-East Africa service. Maersk is actively reviewing upcoming Safari vessel schedules to mitigate disruptions and maintain coverage for Cape Town shippers’ cargo to the Far East.
Navigating Challenges and Planning Ahead
Following Cyclone Belal’s impact, Maersk temporarily suspended new bookings on the Cape Town Express, urging shippers to stagger Asia-bound shipments. The congestion levels at Port Louis have surged to 90%, reflecting the strain on operations. Despite challenges, Durban and Cape Town congestion levels are being managed at 42% and 22%, respectively, highlighting ongoing efforts to navigate through disruptions.
In conclusion, the recent disruptions in Port Louis emphasize the fragility of South Africa’s container supply chains. However, proactive measures by carriers like Maersk demonstrate resilience and adaptability in managing challenges to ensure the continuity of trade routes between South Africa and Asia. As the industry continues to navigate through uncertainties, collaboration and strategic planning remain crucial to overcoming obstacles and maintaining seamless global trade.