Currently there is a backlog of fruit across the citrus supply chain causing temporary delays when it comes to fruit being exported to key markets due to Transnet’s woes. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo, ANA.
Currently there is a backlog of fruit across the citrus supply chain causing temporary delays when it comes to fruit being exported to key markets due to Transnet’s woes. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo, ANA.

Citrus export season on track despite Transnet cyberattack

By Given Majola Time of article published Jul 29, 2021

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THE CITRUS Growers’ Association of Southern Africa (CGA) said yesterday that the citrus export season remained on track despite the cyberattack on Transnet.

CGA chief executive Justin Chadwick said the organisation was in close contact with Transnet on the unprecedented cyber-attack, which had disabled electronic systems and disrupted container terminals at all South Africa’s ports.

The state-owned ports and freight-rail company declared force majeure at the country’s key container terminals on Monday after disruptions caused by a cyberattack five days prior to that.

The measure covers the Durban, Ngqura, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town harbours. Force majeure is an unanticipated or uncontrollable event that releases a company from fulfilling contractual obligations.

Transnet was working around the clock to get its IT system back online, with some applications already having been restored. While these repairs were being carried out, manual systems were being used to shift cargo, which slowed down operations at the ports. However, citrus being shipped via break bulk vessels had not been impacted, because it was serviced by private terminals in domestic ports.

Chadwick said as a result, there was a backlog of fruit across the citrus supply chain, causing temporary delays when it came to fruit being exported to key markets. In order to ease the pressure on ports, growers were diverting fruit to the port at Maputo, Mozambique. The disruptions were expected to be short-lived, he said.

“With more of Transnet’s IT systems coming back online all the time, it is expected that the current disruptions will be short-lived and will have a minimal impact on the current export season,” he said.

The CGA would continue working closely with Transnet and service providers across the citrus value chain to address any blockages, ease backlogs and ensure fruit continued to be exported to key markets across the globe, it said.

The CGA said the South African citrus industry would likely break all previous export season records, with an estimated 158.7 million cartons this year. If the estimate was reached, it would represent a third consecutive season of record export volumes, with 130 million cartons exported in 2019, followed by 146 million cartons last year. The CGA’s current projections for this year indicated a 22 percent growth in export figures in only two years.

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