Durban - Long delays at the Durban Container Terminal have the city’s petrol stations drying up.

Congestion on Tuesday and Wednesday delayed trucks going to and coming from the port and the Fuel Retailers’ Association chief executive, Reggie Sibiya, said on Thursday that fuel reserves at a number of sites around Durban were running dry.

On Tuesday night, 21 loads of BP fuel and eight loads of Shells fuel were not sent out. Total had been affected, but the extent was not yet clear.

Sibiya said the issue lay with container trucks disregarding their instructions to queue in the emergency lanes while waiting for access to Transnet and overtaking the queue by remaining in Bayhead Road.

“We want Metro police to sort it out,” he said.

Workers at the Durban Container Terminal went on strike this week, apparently because of labour issues at Pier 1 on the 6am shift on Tuesday, which had disrupted services. Although work had resumed at 4pm on Tuesday, the backlog could not be cleared and continued into Wednesday.

Harbour Carriers Association KwaZulu-Natal chairwoman, Sue Moodley, said the long delays at the terminal forced many truck operators to close down or move into other forms of transport.

“This has impacted on the collection of containers. The transporters would have made no revenue because they were unable to collect their containers. This caused major congestion in Bayhead Road and impacted the collection of imports and the stacking of exports at Pier 2. This impacted on an already suffering economy,” Moodley said.

TOUGH MEASURES NEEDED

“The contingency plans at Pier 2 have not been fruitful and the transport industry continues to suffer daily,” said Moodley.

She said the port needed to work with Metro police to ease congestion.

Driver fatigue caused by the long delays, particularly with long haul drivers, was a concern because it increased the likelihood of accidents, Moodley said. Attempted hijackings occurred when drivers could not reach their destinations and were forced to stop in dangerous zones to rest.

Last night a logistics and freight operator, who wished to remain anonymous, said the port had sent him an SMS explaining that they would have a roadshow to address employees from 6am today. During this time all operations at the Durban Container Terminal could be shut down, he said.

All truck owners and logistic operators were told to hold back their trucks that were supposed to load imported containers.

“We are going to lose business to other ports like Maputo.”