Maersk is reported to have closed its key operations in South Africa in response to the current civil unrest in the country. According to Times Live, a company spokesperson said that that the shipping line was shutting all of its depots, warehouses and cold stores in Durban and Johannesburg.
Kerry Rosser, the company’s Africa spokesperson, said: “The port of Durban has had many of the terminals shut over the past 24 hours. However at this stage we have not triggered any contingencies that will cause ships not to call at Durban.”
Durban port is currently facing major disruptions, while operations have also been badly impacted at the Richards Bay port and on a national freight rail line. Durban has one of the busiest shipping terminals on the African continent and Richards Bay is home to a major coal export terminal.
South Africa’s citrus exports are currently at their peak. But CGA chief executive Justin Chadwick said trucks carrying citrus have been unable to use the main arterial roads to the Durban port, where more than half of the citrus is exported. He added that harvesting and packing could not be stopped since producers would face losing their crops. Instead, fruit was being palletised and kept in cold storage on farms until the roads were safe again.
The unrest erupted last week in KwaZulu-Natal province, where Durban is located, after the jailing of former President Jacob Zuma but it has rapidly escalated in widespread looting and destruction in several other provinces.