Ships started to bypass South Africa's ports, and many others are now likely to do so, after the Transnet company declared "force majeure" of its port operations on Monday. Some of the ships headed for Capetown or Durban were diverted to the port of Maputo or to ports in Asia. Actually, container ships were bypassing the continent altogether, according to a report by businessinsider.
Importers that are already struggling with a shortage of key goods will now need to wait for containers on those ships. Just how long is still not clear, with the industry already facing a global shipping crisis and a shortage of several types of containers. In a statement issued on Tuesday, Transnet announced that the force majeure "is expected to be lifted soon," but did not provide details on the timeline or the cause. Logistics operators say that the flow of containers had effectively been halted.
Some of the computer systems of Transnet were shut down on July 22 in what the company only described as a "disruption". It has yet to comment publicly on the reasons, and has not answered questions. But it said that the incident was a cyberattack and informed customers that it was suffering from "cyberattack, intrusion and sabotage".
"It is expected that some operations may continue to run slowly over the next few days, while monitoring continues. All operating systems will be brought back in a staggered manner, to minimize further risks and interruptions," the company's statement said.