La Spezia's loss, Durban's gain

Quayside preparations at Durban Quayside preparations at Durban
Industry Database

Durban Container Terminal has taken delivery of three new Liebherr quayside gantry cranes, bringing the existing complement to 16, with a further three also on order from IMSA. The new cranes are expected to boost gross handling productivity from 18 moves per crane hour to 20 moves per crane hour.

Equipped with twin spreaders, they have a faster trolley speed and quicker lifting speed than existing Demag and Noell quayside equipment.

Furthermore, the Liebherr cranes have so far proved to be twice as fast as those from Demag and 30% quicker than the Noell cranes.

According to SAPO engineer Robert Teale, "A major advantage is that the speed of the new cranes remains constant despite varying loads - something our older cranes have been unable to achieve." In addition, with the new lifting equipment in place, it is eventually hoped to speed up turnaround time of vessels by between 10% and 15%, thereby attracting new business.

The 60-ton cranes were originally built in Southern Ireland for Contship Italia's La Spezia operation, where they were to be deployed in the new Angelo Ravano Container Terminal. However, lobbying from environmental groups made it impossible to undertake the necessary dredging work needed to justify construction of what would be an extension of the existing La Spezia Container Terminal, albeit with an alongside draught of 13 metres. As a result, no economic case could be made for retaining them, especially since the port's main client was minded to switch part of its traffic to Livorno, where larger ships could be accommodated.

With MSC's Captain Salvatore Sarno acting as broker, a deal was finally agreed in December 2003 to ship the cranes to South Africa at a cost of €21.73m.

According to Hamilton Nxumalo, SAPO's general manager in charge of asset management and equipment engineering, "La Spezia's initial price was €23 million, which was then reduced, through negotiations, to the final figure. Furthermore, their initial price excluded transportation, modifications, installation and commissioning of the cranes, while the new price is inclusive of modifications, transportation (bracing, de-bracing, surveying, insurance etc), installation, training of SA Port staff and commissioning at the Port of Durban."

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