Port of East London a conduit for essential commodities during COVID-19


Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) is handling essential commodities to guarantee worldwide food supply chains during COVID-19.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic and national lockdown in South Africa, the Port of East London continues to play its active role in facilitating the movement of critical cargo related to the supply and distribution of essential goods such as food, fuel and chemicals.

TNPA’s East London Port Manager, Sharon Sijako, said, “Throughout our journey with COVID-19 we have been in frequent discussion with representatives from our Provincial and Local Government and all other critical stakeholders, including terminal operators and shipping agents, with regard to port operations, cargo flows and support to ensure the seamless flow of essential cargo through our port.

“To date, all has gone well and our stakeholders are appreciative of the partnership during these challenging times.”

On Friday, 17 April two vessels docked, with the first being container vessel, mv HSL Paraty to discharge and load food products, chemicals and automotive components.  

This was followed by the bulk carrier, mv Jorita with a consignment of wheat, extremely critical given the country’s present wheat shortages, to be discharged and destined for local mills to produce flour primarily for bakeries.

Both vessels were on maiden voyage calls to the port. Earlier in the week saw another critical consignment of export livestock to Port Louis, Mauritius, on-board the mv Murray Express.

South Africa’s only river port also handled liquid bulk tankers with locally refined and imported petroleum products, as well as a consignment of vehicle imports discharged from the mv Manon for the local market.

Government has relaxed some of its initial COVID-19 regulations to improve the flow of cargo through the ports.

The initial Regulations stipulated that only essential goods could be moved through the ports, but this led to terminals becoming congested with imported goods that were not essential goods.

The Regulations were subsequently amended to enable the flow of cargo to enable ports to clear cargo congestion.

In the latest Regulations announced after the lockdown extension, there is a provision for goods that are currently in ports to be exported, to further reduce any potential congestion.  

While the Port of East London’s automotive terminal was provisionally closed in line with Transnet’s decision to minimise any potential COVID-19 virus spread by reducing non-essential operations at its terminals, all the port’s terminals in East London have since resumed restricted operations to support the economy in line with the latest Regulations.  

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