Some of the worst floods in South African history have killed more than 400 people and displaced nearly 40,000. It severely damaged the port city of East Durban and severely damaged it.
With the port not fully operational, supply chain concerns, China – South Africa’s largest trading partner – and other countries’ imports and exports could be disrupted.
Earlier this week, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a state of emergency due to the floods – a result of climate change but some critics blamed poor infrastructure and most of the victims were living in makeshift shelters.
“The port of Durban – one of the largest and most congested shipping terminals on the continent and vital to our economy – has been severely damaged,” Ramaphosa said. “
The port, which handles 13,000 trucks a day, was severely damaged, he said.
On Tuesday, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan concluded that it would take more than a week for the reopened port to clear some of the implications. The railway network to the site was damaged by the landslide, and repairs are still needed, he said, adding that 9,000 containers will be stored at the port and will be destroyed in the next nine days.
He said logs and debris had fallen on the port as a result of the flood.
According to Cobus Van Staden, a senior Chinese researcher at the South African Institute for International Affairs, China is one of the countries most likely to be affected by the port.
The situation in Durban is of great concern not only to South Africa but also to China-Africa trade. This is because the port of Durban is central to the export of Chinese products, ”he told VOA.
About 20 percent of China-Africa trade goes through Durban, which includes resources such as cobalt, copper and lithium from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe.
Marsk, the world’s largest container line, shut down its port last week and told VOA via email that the warehouse had been damaged and was no longer operational. At the start of the project, the company said that problems with access to the road were affecting all cargo entering and exiting the terminal.
“We will continue to assess the damage and monitor the situation in an evolutionary manner. Customers are improving on a daily basis in the process and on a regular basis, so that supply chains can move as quickly as possible,” he said.
Wandele Sihlobo, chief economist at the South African Agricultural Business Chamber of Commerce, told VOA he thought it would take some time for the port to return to normal.
“These heavy rains have caused severe damage and are a major threat to trade and all goods: cars, agriculture and other economically dependent sectors,” he said.