A stakeholder engagement session that took place at Transnet Port Terminal’s (TPT) Durban Container Terminal (DCT) in March 2017 saw to educate and engage with the transport and maritime industry over the re-introduction of the container appointment system in an effort to tackle congestion issues and improve operational performance.

The container appointment system is due to address current challenges over truck and container transactions that are currently not spread evenly over a seven day week, resulting in some days of the week being highly pressurised when compared to others. The consequence of the pressurised days is longer truck turnaround times and ultimately congestion in the surrounding roads leading to the port.

According to TPT’s General Manager Operations: KZN Containers, Julani Dube, the proposed goal once having implemented the container appointment system will be to achieve a 35 minute truck turnaround time (gate-in to gate-out), with zero percent staging time. “We have done the necessary research and tracked all movements and transactions over the past year to know where the problems are and what is realistically achievable if we get the necessary buy-in from stakeholders to implement the container appointment system. Our engagement session held at DCT was to identify any additional concerns raised by transporters about the implementation of this system so we could factor these in and ensure a smooth roll-out. We intend to go live with a pilot of the system on 1 April 2017 at DCT Pier 1,” explained Dube.

The benefits to introducing the container appointment system include, a more structured operation, fluidity of the terminal/staging area, better utilisation of terminal resources for the benefit of all users, volume smoothing, improvement of safety and minimising fatigue, a stop to the ongoing allegation of bribery, minimising of industry frustration, reduction of Bayhead road congestion and saving of costs for all parties.

Stakeholders were animated in their engagement and a number of attendees voiced their concerns around lack of resources and equipment being available that would impact on the success of the container appointment system. Management from TPT reassured stakeholders that the engagement sessions were vital to ensuring that all issues raised were taken into consideration so that all parties could create a workable and viable solution going forward. A further follow-up session was to be scheduled with TPT management and stakeholders ahead of the pilot being launched.

Ten years ago Transnet Port Terminals’ Durban Container Terminal (DCT) Pier 1, a combination multipurpose terminal previously known as “New Pier”, began operations. Over the past 10 years, DCT Pier 1 has built up a reputation of being an industry leader with significant improvements seen in both gross crane moves per hour (GCH), grown from 20 to 28, ship working hour (SWH) (increased from 10 to 53) as well as the caliber of clients serviced, which in previous years has included China Shipping, CMA-CGM, Maruba Shipping, MSC, MOL, NYK, K-Line, Zim line and Safmarine.