The Port Elizabeth harbour’s manganese operation collided at the weekend with the cruise liner industry with passengers forced to negotiate a quay caked with ore dust.
Tour guides have voiced their anger about the situation but the port authority said there was no alternative as the harbour was a multi-use facility and it was particularly busy on Sunday when the problems arose.
The manganese operators were, however, supposed to dampen down the ore to minimise the dust and to clean up after a shipment, acting port manager Captain Faisal Sultan said on Monday.
One tour guide, who asked not be named for fear of being blacklisted by Transnet, said the situation was appalling on Sunday morning when he arrived with a convoy of guides and buses to pick up the 600-odd passengers disembarking from the Azamara Quest to join various excursions.
“The berth — historically the Fresh Produce Terminal — was an absolute pigsty.
“The manganese ore dust was lying centimetres thick on the quayside and on the surrounding buildings.
“After the rain it was like a thick sludge that was carried from the feet of the passengers into the tour vehicles and everywhere else.”
He said the situation made no sense considering the much-publicised pending transfer of the manganese operation to the Port of Ngqura.
“Instead of toning operations down in the Port Elizabeth they seem to be escalating their operations.
“I think we need some answers to what appears to be an effort to damage