Zimbabwe businesses feels pinch of Durban floods

Chris Mahove

The business community in Zimbabwe has bemoaned the floods that hit the port city of Durban in South Africa saying they will further worsen supply chain disruptions brought about by the COVID-19 induced lockdowns which they were recovering from.

Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) president Kurai Matsheza said the catastrophic event in the neighbouring country had seriously negatively affected business in Zimbabwe.

“The Durban port handles the bulk of cargo that is Zimbabwe bound and export destined beyond the SADC region. Therefor these floods will further worsen supply chain disruptions brought by COVID-19, which we were slowly coming out of,” he said.

Matshazi noted that although the full effects could not be immediate, Zimbabwean businesses would certainly feel the impact in the next coming few weeks.

“This will worsen the already tight working capital constraints,” he added.

Freight World Founder member and Chief Executive Officer, Ben Mukandi, echoed Matsheza’s sentiments, saying the freight industry would be greatly affected.

“There is going to be serious disruption of the movement of both import and export cargo which may result in Durban congestion,” he said.

The floods, a result of the heaviest downpour in almost six decades, forced the closure of the key South African Port, halting operations at all terminals.

Truckers and dockworkers failed to access the port, as the floods disrupted road and rail transportation, resulting in increased backlog of cargo.

Damage to infrastructure such as power supplies, telecommunication networks and water treatment plants exacerbated the situation.

Transnet SOC Ltd reportedly suspended all ocean operations last Monday, with the 36-hour closure leading to backlogs in cargo processing.

Some containers were damaged by the floods, while some container stacks collapsed.

The Port of Durban holds container, metal and agricultural shipments and has a capacity of 3.6 million 20-foot equivalent units per year, with a further 1.4 million tons of breakbulk capacity and 1.4 million tons of agricultural bulk capacity per year.

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