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South African ports pick up pace following IT outage

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South African ports and terminals have begun to clear backlogs of containers following a devastating IT outage which struck the national infrastructure operator.

Operator Transnet tweeted on 29 July that teams at Cape Town Container Terminals have begun to clear the backlogs to create space for priority cargo, which includes medicines and food.

The operator also posted a video of cargo vessels entering the Port of Durban on the morning of 29 July as terminals pick up the pace in processing goods coming into the country.

Transnet declared force majeure on 26 July to customers covering the period from 22 July.

In an update on 27 July, Spokesperson Ayanda Shezi wrote that “significant progress” has been made in restoring the IT systems, with most of the affected applications returning to operations by 26 July.

“It is expected that some applications may continue to run slowly over the next few days, while monitoring continues,” Shezi added.

“All operations will be brought back in a staggered manner, to minimise further risks and interruptions. At the ports each container terminal has communicated its transition plan from manual operation to the full NAVIS-driven operation.”

“We will continue to work directly with shipping lines in order to facilitate maximum import evacuation and further exports planned for future vessels. Controls have been developed in conjunction with the shipping lines and South African Revenue Service’s (SARS) Customs division to ensure safe clearance and evacuation of each container,” Shezi added.

As of 29 July the operator’s website remains offline.

The Ports of Durban and Richards Bay suffered from the fallout of national protests in July 2021, with impacts to port staffing and trucking operations.

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