When one door closes, another opens

It was an anonymous Spanish writer who came up with the proverb ‘When one door closes, another opens’. 

Sadly in the Western Cape we have witnessed the reverse. Just two days after the flood-damaged N2 reopened outside Botrivier, bringing huge relief to farmers needing to move goods to market, we learn that two of the world’s biggest shipping lines will introduce a shipping surcharge due to congestion at Cape Town Port. As from next month Maersk and MSC will be implementing a Congestion Fee Destination for dry containers from entering South Africa. 

As one door opens, another closes. 

While we commend SANRAL and other Government stakeholders for determined efforts to fix the N2 ahead of schedule (it was due to reopen only at the end of November), we can only sympathise with our farmers who will now face inevitable cost implications of increased shipping tariffs. 

The surcharge comes despite frantic behind-the-scenes efforts to address South Africa’s logistics crisis. To some degree it is a race against time; every Port delay has a ripple effect that makes a surcharge inevitable. A ship delivering containers to South Africa is also delivering to multiple other Ports, and a delay in Table Bay means multiple delays further down the line. 

We commend our Government partners for addressing complex challenges under sometimes difficult circumstances, with many moving parts to each problem. There will always be challenges, just as there will always be floods, some more severe than others. And just like the road repair teams there will always be those working round-the-clock to patch things up as they fall apart, and they don’t always get the thanks they deserve. 

There’s another home-grown proverb that goes something like this: when one door closes, just open it again – it was probably just a gust of wind.

John Lawson
CEO of the Cape Chamber of Commerce & Industry