Transnet Port Terminals announced force majeure on Monday 26 July 2021, this comes after its continuous fallout from the cyberattack that affected possibly all Transnet Ports and its supporting services six days before (22 July 2021)
One of South Africa’s largest state-owned rail, ports and pipeline company issued a formal confidential letter to its customers on Monday describing the attack as an act of sabotage and security intrusion, the letter was sent out by CEO of Transnet Port Terminal Velile Dube. The major disruptions to the normal processes and functions to state-owned ports took place in all four ports namely Durban, Ngqura, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town, this led the company adopt a manual system to process cargo containers.
The DA public enterprises spokesperson Ghaleb Cachalia said “by connecting the dots of the past week’s failed insurrection, it is becoming increasingly clear that the crippling cyberattack on Transnet’s IT Infrastructure was an act of sabotage potentially carried out by the perpetrators of the insurrection. He also associated the attack to the recent civil unrest that led to riots, “As part of their plan to bring the country to its knees, the insurrectionists first targeted Durban’s major transport artery, the N3. Their intention was clearly meant to disrupt supply chains, cause food shortages and whip up public anger, they then turned to the business sector. By sponsoring the industrial scale rioting and looting in the two provinces, they forced Transnet to declare a force majeure on the Natcor rail line that connects Gauteng and KZN.”
The Citrus Grower’s Association of South Africa said that supply chain backlogs are causing export delays to key fruit markets. Justin Chadwick said that most of their cargo is transported from Durban and in order to ease the pressure on South Africa’s ports, growers are diverting fruit to the port in Maputo.
The disruptions raised concerns that more than 55 000 employees would not be paid on Tuesday but were assured that salaries were scheduled, some employees were asked to shut down their laptops, desktops and tablets connected to the company’s domain shortly after the attack, Transnet also warned employees not to access emails on their smartphones until further notice
The public enterprises department announced on Wednesday that Transnet has restored port operations. “The upliftment of the force majeure took effect on from Thursday 22 July after Transnet experienced a cyber-attack, necessitating those operations be conducted manually. In terms of operations, Port Terminals will continue to apply the berthing principles of the container operations contract in the container terminals. This is currently the most practical way of normalising operations and maintaining complimentary port schedule for shipping lines.”