Major expansion for Durban port

2012-11-16 00:00

THE next seven years are shaping up to be prosperous for Durban’s port, with a guaranteed R46 billion set aside for major expansion. Several big projects have already been completed, with more in progress and others still in the pipeline.

Transnet National Ports Authority spent two hours showcasing its work to date during a brunch yesterday at the Elangeni Hotel on the city’s beachfront.

General manager for infrastructure Hamilton Nxumalo said the money was coming from their own coffers — and had a quick dig at other less solvent state entities, like SAA.

“We are funding all our investments from our balance sheet, unlike other parastatals who are going to government for rescue,” he said to a few sniggers.

Nxumalo said some of the projects were started several years ago and then put on hold when the global financial meltdown in 2009 gathered pace.

Despite the recession, container volumes in the port increased and bigger ships carrying heavier cargos were sailing the oceans.

But these vessels, with 13 metre drafts, were unable to dock in Durban because of shallow waters and ageing berths. Nxumalo said much of the expansion was designed to address congestion and allow bigger ships carrying more cargo into the port.

Some of the sites being replaced or upgraded were also old and posed safety concerns.

Of the budgeted capital expenditure, about 30% was being earmarked for Durban and 20% for Richards Bay, giving KwaZulu-Natal the lion’s share of the funding. Transnet manages seven other ports in South Africa.

Among the completed projects are Bayhead Road, upgraded to a four-lane dual carriageway at a cost of R274 million, and berth 10 at Island View, which handles fuel transfers, and cost R57,7 million to finish. A number of similar berth upgrades are expected to finish next year.

Also on their way are seven “monster cranes” that promise to boost operations significantly.

One audience member pointed out that Maputo in Mozambique was undergoing expansion of its own and would give Durban competition in years to come.

But Nxumalo was unfazed and said the two countries were “working together”, rather than against each other to make the region attractive to the world.

• brett.horner@witness.co.za

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