Durban in midst of transformational development

Durban has projects to modernise, develop and expand. Credit: Port of Durban Durban has projects to modernise, develop and expand. Credit: Port of Durban
Industry Database

Africa’s busiest port is forging ahead with projects to morph it into a mega logistics gateway, finds Kerry Dimmer.

Ranked 25th in the world for attractiveness and third on the African continent for container throughput, the Port of Durban occupies a focal point in the logistics chain of the nation and plays a leading role in facilitating economic growth not just for South Africa, but also the region.

It boasts being one of the few ports in the world located in close proximity to a central business district, and with the Dube Trade Port on its doorstep offering a range of complementary logistics services, the Port of Durban is seemingly advancing well in its plans to develop Durban into a mega logistics gateway.

Nokuzola Nkowane, acting port manager at the Port of Durban, explains that the relationship between the Port of Durban and the Dube Trade Port is multi-focused, but will facilitate the development of Durban into a major logistics city. It will act as a seamless road, rail, air and sea platform to serve the subcontinent of Africa. This will improve overall competitiveness and the cost of doing business, all in a co-ordinated effort to spur sustained economic growth for the country, she says.

The Port of Durban’s current profile of 21 kilometres with rail tracks in the port totalling 302 kilometres, includes 44 commercial berths and one single buoy mooring with a theoretical capacity of 3.4m teu for containers; 12.1m tons of dry bulk cargo; 19.5m tons of liquid bulk cargo; 24m tons of crude oil; 900,000 units for automotive vehicles; and 2.9m tons for breakbulk cargo.

Ms Nkowane confirms that last year the port handled some 2.7 m teu of containers, 10.7m tons of dry bulk, 28m tons of liquid bulk cargo, 455,000 units of automotive and 2.2m tons breakbulk. This clearly indicates that the port has spare capacity, and why it is keen to attract more volume from global shipping companies.

Infrastructure development

The port has, confirms Ms Nkowane, upped its infrastructure development, such as the current project that is deepening three berths at its Container Terminal from 12.8 metres to 16.5 metres. Next is Pier 1 on Salisbury Island, where capacity will be increased from 700,000 teu per annum, to 2.4m.

“We are also extending the length of the existing quay wall at the Container Terminal in order to accommodate mega vessels. This follows on from the completed reconstruction and deepening of berths 3 and 4 at the Maydon Wharf Precinct, which was undertaken in order to also accommodate the berthing of bigger vessels. The Durban Dry Dock outer Caisson has been refurbished and is in operation, and nine new harbour tugs have also been commissioned for build.”

All the projects aim to modernise, develop and expand on existing infrastructure and this is part of the strategy to position the Port of Durban as an ‘Enterprise Driver’, … “one that promotes not just economic growth, but also sustainability of the maritime value chain”, says Ms Nkowane.

Proof positive of its intention to be a full-service port with a provision of diverse services comes from the recent announcement of the conclusion of a R200m-plus ($16.2m) cruise terminal operator agreement.

“The KwaZulu Cruise terminal (Pty) Ltd will finance, construct, operate and maintain the Port of Durban’s Cruise Terminal Facility, which will be operational by October 2020,” confirms Ms Nkowane. “This is a joint venture between MSC Cruises SA and Africa Armada Consortium, an investment company that empowers black financiers through participation in economic activities, in particular port and logistics developments.”

Locally, the Port of Durban serves as the main gateway to the Gauteng province, considered the main economic hub of the country, which is situated some 600 kilometres from the port. It is also the country’s main port for the automotive industry, handling 66% of vehicle manufacturers’ imports and exports from three of the nine provinces in which they operate.

“The Port of Durban is considered the premier trade gateway between south-south trade, the Far East, Europe and US trade. It is also the leading point on the continent for east and west regional trade. We have excellent shipping ties to anywhere in the world, be that America, New Zealand or the hinterland of Africa.”

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