Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) had seen a softening in import and export container volumes in the early months of the current financial year, said TPT CEO Karl Socikwa on Tuesday.
Addressing the 2012 Africa Ports & Harbours Conference in Johannesburg, he noted that this slowdown could be attributed to a “variety of reasons”, including the cooling European economy.
Socikwa said shipping lines had indicated to TPT that they were not “overly concerned” about the situation, and that it could be only “a soft blip”.
“They are not in a situation where they say they have the burning need to adjust their volumes downwards.”
Socikwa said TPT was also sticking to its earlier volume forecast for the year. However, if TPT did not “see the desired volume levels”, the parastatal would be forced to revisit its investment plans.
“Imports and exports are factors of the economy, and there is little we can do about it as an operator.”
Transnet had a seven-year, R300-billion capital investment programme on the table, with TPT set to receive “just over 10%”, or R33-billion, from this programme.
The Richards Bay port, which had been seen a “backlog in investment” in recent years, was set to receive the lion’s share of TPT’s money, with every port, however, sure to receive some funding.
Socikwa described the Richards Bay multipurpose terminal as complex, handling more than 17 commodities, using different methodologies.
“The equipment is old and ageing.”
Durban would also receive some of the funding, with seven new tandem-lift ship-to-shore cranes to be installed later this year. Coega, in the Eastern Cape, will see four new cranes added in the coming months. TPT was positioning this port as a transhipment hub, said Socikwa.
Saldanha would also see a ramp-up in iron-ore volumes.