No South African seaport has been closed in its entirety: Transnet
Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) clarified on Thursday that no South African seaport has been closed in its entirety and commercial cargo operations will continue at all ports.
“TNPA wishes to clarify that no South African seaport has been closed in its entirety and commercial cargo operations will continue at all ports. Media articles and other external communiques citing the total closure of any seaport were a misinterpretation of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s 15 March 2020 remarks,” it said in a statement.
TNPA said the closure related only to the prohibition of crew changes and passenger changes in the ports of Mossel Bay and Saldanha until further notice.
This was because these ports do not have port health capabilities as provided by the department of health.
However, the port authority said after transport minister Fikile Mbalula’s gazetting of regulations which stated that no crew changes should take place at the ports of Saldanha Bay and Mossel Bay, it took the executive decision on Wednesday to prohibit crew changes across all commercial ports in SA.
The others are Durban, Richards Bay, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Ngqura and East London.
TNPA said the ministerial regulations set out further protocols for provision of improved access and hygiene, sterilisation control on ships, seaports and in licensed seaport operations, including that all persons entering the ports will be screened for Covid-19.
The ports authority and terminal operators must provide adequate facilities for hand washing and sanitisation equipment at all entrances and exits.
TNPA is also required to implement a reporting, tracking, tracing and monitoring system for Covid-19 at its commercial ports.
The ministerial regulations also advise South African citizens and permanent residents to refrain from sea travel until further notice. They further prohibit passenger embarkation and disembarkation at all seaports, except under certain circumstances.
“South Africa’s cruise ports - Durban, Richards Bay, Cape Town, Mossel Bay, Port Elizabeth, Ngqura and East London - will now only be permitted to allow disembarkation of a returning South African citizen and/or a permanent resident, or embarkation of a departing foreign national,” said TNPA.
In addition, the national department of health earlier this week advised TNPA that “all sea cruises undertaken by cruise liner vessels into and out of any seaport within South Africa must be terminated until further notice”.
TNPA said it was working with affected cruise line companies and shipping agents to execute this instruction as seamlessly as possible, noting that the current cruise season was scheduled to end on April 22.
Emergency medical evacuation will be managed using the existing Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre protocols.