The Port of Cape Town is investing in future growth Port Manager Mpumi Dweba-Ketana outlines key areas of focus for building the ship repair and container businesses while improving efficiencies in all spheres. What is the role of the Port Authority? Our role is to make space available for the use of terminal operators. We are a landlord in that we give facilities and infrastructure to people to operate those facilities. We have 11 terminal operators altogether. Please tell us how Covid-19 affected the port. When Covid started we all put plans in place, but even at Level 5 we were not closed because the Container Terminal, the Multipurpose Terminal and the Liquid Bulk Terminal all stayed open because they provide essential goods and services. We applied business continuation plans and we did not close for any single day for business.
Mpumi Dweba-Ketana, Port Manager
BIOGRAPHY The daughter of teachers, Mpumi Dweba-Kwetana, earned a BA, a BED and an HDE as a teacher and an Education Specialist for the Department of Education. Her switch to the maritime industry led to a BPhil in Maritime Economics and an Executive MBA. After working for the Department of Transport, Mpumi was appointed by Transnet National Ports Authority as the first Port Manager for the Port of Ngqura in 2012. She took up the Cape Town post in 2017. WESTERN CAPE BUSINESS 2021
Were staff affected? A first fatality unfortunately happened outside and we saw infections start to increase, also in berthing services. We reduced the team from four to two and also reduced the number of gangs. Most unfortunately the increase in cases in Cape Town came among the skilled workers you cannot easily replace. Among operators, we were down from eight gangs to two. What steps were taken to overcome the challenges of Covid-19? From the month of June, we started to see the system stabilising, employees were either coming back from quarantine or isolation. We reviewed our strategy with regard to those with co-morbidities. It was decided that those below the age of 60 who wanted to come back to work could after a visit to the clinic to determine their fitness. We must acknowledge the role that was played by the Port of Durban. When we did not have operators, 20 operators flew in from Durban. We treat them as warriors, and their bravery was really appreciated. Have you been able to ramp up operations again? All terminals are operating now, and we are back to at least 80% regarding staff. Staff over 60 with co-morbidity still can’t come to work. What degree of coordination is required to run a successful port? We have virtual meetings with all terminal operators where we discuss the issues. Any likely challenges can be brought to our attention by local and provincial government or even the business chamber. We are able to hold each other accountable.