South Africa’s Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) has banned all crew changes and passenger travel at its eight ports, but the country’s transport minister, Fikile Mbalula, made it clear that business is as usual for commercial cargo operations.
The minister signed port-related regulations into effect on 18 March 2020, under provisions in the National Ports Act. These regulations are intended to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) through the country’s seaports.
The regulations stated that as of 18 March, no crew changes are permitted in the ports of Saldanha and Mossel Bay until further notice because these ports do not have the necessary port health capabilities required by the Department of Health. However, TNPA has extended the prohibition to all the country’s ports, including Durban, Richards Bay, Cape Town, Mossel Bay, Saldanha, Port Elizabeth, Ngqura, and East London.
The regulations also forbid passenger embarkation and disembarkation at all seaports except under certain circumstances. South Africa’s six cruise ports, Durban, Richards Bay, Cape Town, Mossel Bay, Port Elizabeth, Ngqura, and East London, will now only be allowed to disembark returning South African citizens and permanent residents, or embark departing foreign nationals.
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”.
The Ministerial Regulations also set out protocols regarding access and hygiene, sterilisation control on ships, seaports, and in licenced seaport operations, including that all persons entering the ports will be screened for COVID-19.
TNPA and terminal operators must provide adequate facilities for hand washing and sanitisation equipment at all entrances and exits. The port authority will also be implementing a reporting, tracking, tracing, and monitoring system for COVID-19 at its commercial ports.
Finally, the Ministerial Regulations stated that no gathering of more than 100 people may be held in any seaport precinct until further notice.