April 9, 2024

Port of Cape Town Weathers Fierce Storm

Photo: SABC News

Fierce winds reaching speeds of up to 110 kilometres per hour wreaked havoc at the Port of Cape Town over the weekend, significantly disrupting operations. The severe storm conditions forced the automatic shutdown of ship-to-shore (STS) cranes, essential for container movement, when one unit registered wind speeds of approximately 60 knots. This led to a complete halt in the hoisting and parallel movement of containers, deemed too perilous in the face of such high-speed winds.

The situation was exacerbated by swell surges, further complicating the already inclement conditions at the port. Contrary to some reports, the port remained operational, according to logistics utility Transnet, despite the significant loss of throughput at the container terminal.

The weekend’s storm was part of a series of violent squalls that caused widespread devastation across the Cape, damaging informal settlements, propelling corrugated iron sheets through the air, and escalating fires. One such fire destroyed the historic 300-year-old Blaauklippen manor house in Stellenbosch.

Cape Town International Airport was also affected, with flights suspended due to the adverse weather conditions. The storm, which began on Friday, led to an incident where a cruise liner, the Ambience, with 1,400 passengers on board, collided with a cargo vessel, the Grey Fox, due to a swell surge at the port.

Despite the challenges, marine services at the port have remained operational. While the provincial government had prepared for more extreme weather conditions on Monday, April 8, the situation seemed to improve, indicating that the worst of the storm may have subsided. This development offered a measure of relief following what was described as some of the most intense winds the region has experienced in recent history.