Capacity creation is the top priority in South African ports



Transnet Port Terminals, Durban, South Africa


Nowhere in South Africa is the rapid upsurge in economic activity and growth more evident than in its commercial ports. Historically neglected and under-funded prior to 1994, during the country’s economic sanctions and apartheid era, South Africa’s ports have since been experiencing booming business, and stateowned transport and freight entity Transnet Limited has been at pains to ensure it creates capacity ahead of demand in its busy terminals.


Transnet’s port operating division, Transnet Port Terminals, has steadily increased its overall investment from a mere R131m in 2001/02 (GBP £10.6 billion) to more than R3.2bn (£259 million in 2008/09.) The division will now spend R6.5 billion (approximately £528 million) over the next five years on capital investments. These are aimed at reducing the cost of doing business and enhancing its competitiveness as a global logistics player. Approximately 31 per cent of this will go towards increasing capacity, to achieve the company’s growth initiatives.

Beefing up box capacity

Capacity expansion programmes are currently underway at the major container terminals in South Africa. In Durban and Cape Town, as well as at the new deepwater Port of Ngqura, which launched to commercial trade in October 2009, such projects will assist in meeting the target of a 32 per cent increase in container capacity over five years, with spare capacity to deal with any growth in volumes. In total, these developments will create capacity of 5.7 million TEUs for South Africa by 2014/15. Transnet Port Terminals reports container growth will be harnessed through a container hub strategy to develop regional and global transhipment volumes, particularly through Ngqura.

Ngqura Container Terminal

Transnet’s R10 billion investment into the Port of Ngqura has produced the most modern harbour in Africa to date, and the Ngqura container terminal has been hailed as a solution to pressure on the country’s container sectors. The Port of Ngqura is an attractive option, given that it is the only port in South Africa able to receive new generation vessels carrying between 8,000 and 9,000 TEUs, with a draft of 16.5 metres.

With its high-tech container terminal, the improved infrastructure will help to relieve container congestion in other South African ports and will also attract additional transhipment cargo. The Ngqura container terminal is being positioned as a hub for the Sub-Saharan Africa region and lies midway between the Americas, Far East and Asia. It opened with a capacity of 800,000 TEUs, but by its end state will boast a capacity of two million TEUs.

The terminal’s equipment includes 22 rubber-tyred gantry cranes (RTGs); six Megamax ship-to-shore cranes, two railmounted gantry cranes (RMGs), two reach stackers, four empty container handlers and 1,680 reefer slots. The Navis SPARCS N4 terminal operating system and the auto gate facility are also in place.

The port also boasts excellent rail infrastructure, with a total of nine lines expected to be available by March 2010. The rail route links the new port to the City Deep rail terminal in South Africa’s Gauteng Province via Beaconsfield. Research has shown that the port will offer increased national trade competitiveness, improved services levels from the port operator, and reduced logistics costs. Durban Container Terminal and Pier 1  The Port of Durban is the 42nd largest port in the world, with well-established infrastructure and hinterland connectivity and is expected to remain the key contributor to South Africa’s container traffic well into the future. It is also home to two of the region’s busiest container terminals, the Durban Container Terminal (DCT) and Pier 1.

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