The company that oversees the operations of South African ports, Transnet, declared force majeure on July 12 and suspended terminal operations at both Durban and Richards Bay ports.
The Transnet declaration of force majeure follows on similar declarations from mining giant Rio Tinto along with oil companies Shell and BP, and Natcor rail line, the freight rail connecting Durban to Gauteng.
Maersk has also shut down its own depots as the civil unrest continues and crowds rampage through various areas of the country.
Durban is one of the busiest shipping terminals on the African continent and serves as a hub for the export of agricultural commodities and imports such as crude oil and petroleum products.
Richards Bay is a major port for coal export.
Transnet, in a statement described the impact “as the entire supply chain is effectively closed,” including roads both in and out of the ports. Additionally, port health services at Durban have been closed and vessels were blocked from berthing because of the inability to carry out COVID-19 testing.
Needless to say, the declaration and stoppage of traffic in and out of the ports is causing shipments to fall far behind in delivery schedules.
Although a video has been circulating online showing a container being vandalized, Transnet has denied any looting at its facilities and that the container shown in the video is not from one of their facilities. The company also said it is taking steps to ensure commercial fuel operations aren’t affected.