South Africa unveils expansion plan for Port of Durban
South African authorities have unveiled an ambitious $ 7 billion plan to modernize the port of Durban, aimed at improving its efficiency and regaining its status as the best performing port in Africa.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday that the government intends to mobilize private sector participation in the port expansion project. This will help the port to play its role of anchoring economic growth and serving as a gateway to southern Africa and the entire continent.
“Partnerships with the private sector are essential to bring new investments, technologies and skills to port operations and to modernize equipment and infrastructure,” he said in an open letter.
He added that Transnet, the guardian of the country’s ports, railways and pipelines, will later this year sign a concession with a private company to build and operate a new terminal in the Point district, which will improve the efficient container handling at port.
The Port of Durban modernization program will also include deepening the Maydon Wharf channel to allow large modern vessels to enter the port, as well as filling Docks 1 and 2 to create additional capacity for containers.
When completed, the port’s container handling capacity will increase from 2.9 million TEUs to over 11 million TEUs. This decade-long project will allow Durban to reclaim its position as Africa’s busiest and largest port. In recent years, it has slipped to third place behind Tangier in Morocco and Port Said in Egypt.
“Through operational improvements and structural reforms, the port of Durban will regain its place as the best performing port in Africa,” said Ramaphosa.
The Port of Durban is grappling with a worsening congestion crisis, which has caused shipping companies to worry about dally queues, ship berthing delays and anchoring times, as well as poor maintenance of equipment and low productivity.
In 2019, the government formed a multidisciplinary task force on the decongestion of the port of Durban, which proposed measures implemented to meet the challenge.
The measures include synchronizing the opening hours of the container depots at the rear of the port with the 24-hour port opening hours and the introduction of a holistic truck reservation system that provides an integrated view expected truck volumes so that all parties can plan more effectively.
“These efforts are already translating into better equipment maintenance, reduced congestion, shorter lead times and increased use of rail instead of road transport,” noted Ramaphosa.
He added that while this is an important step forward, there is still a long way to go to position Durban as a world-class central port for the southern hemisphere.
Data from Transnet National Ports Authority shows that the overall throughput of the Port of Durban in 2018 was 2.9 million TEUs, a 10 percent increase from 2.6 million in 2017. During the year year, the total freight throughput amounted to 83.1 million tonnes, an increase of 6.4 percent from 78.1. million tonnes the previous year.