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UD-Express
Bumper citrus export despite COVID-19
Due to the demand from European markets, the Port of PE experienced a record citrus export season despite COVID-19. Photo:SUPPLIED

IN the midst of the record citrus export season, Transnet National Ports Authority’s (TNPA) Nelson Mandela Bay ports have successfully complemented the Port of Cape Town, which was negatively affected by COVID-19.

Apart from handling the fruit at the Port of PE’s breakbulk facilities, the two Eastern Cape ports’ container terminals estimate to handle more than 460 000 pallets by the end of the fruit season.

Sujit Bhagattjee, Business Development Manager, together with Marine Operations and the Harbour Master, spearheaded a request from the shipping lines for fruit to be handled at the port’s multi-purpose terminal. This resulted in the Perishable Products Exports Control Board (PPECB) giving their stamp of approval. The port’s customer-centric and flexible approach accommodated an increased number of vessels handled.

The Port of PE has additionally seen the resurgence of palletised fruit, mainly at the multi-purpose terminal, owing to a worldwide shortage of reefer containers and also some of the receiving ports in the world using older technology. During the COVID-19 pandemic and the citrus export season, the Port Elizabeth Container Terminal has once again proven its strategic importance to the complementary South African container terminal system in supporting the SA economy.

Compliance and capacity

The port had to ensure that the shipping lines, vessel agents and terminal operators are fully compliant in terms of the COVID-19 protocols. This effort has ensured that the Port of PE has not turned away any vessel to date,” said Sujit Bhagattjee, Business Development Manager.

“We also focused on the importance of sound infrastructure, equipment and human capital. These include power and additional plug points in the container terminal, the capacity of the two new mobile cranes as well as the health and safety of our people.”

The fruit season is expected to continue until week 40 that ends in September, with the possibility of extension due to demand from European markets.

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