Making Durban port faster

2013-05-14 00:00

THEY’RE giant and red, cost R700 million and are easily among the biggest of their kind in global shipping. And they’re here to do all the heavy lifting.

Seven new cranes acquired by Transnet Port Terminals for Durban harbour were the centrepieces of red carpet celebrations yesterday when group CEO Brian Molefe showed off his new toys to Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba.

The behemoths were bought from world market leaders in crane construction, ZPMC, a Chinese firm that outbid seven other companies for the Transnet tender in 2011.

Three of the cranes arrived last December and the other four came across the seas in February. They stand side by side at Pier 2, north pier, on the Bayside of the harbour.

Gigaba cut the ribbon on the last crane yesterday, formally commissioning it along with the others.

Transnet and government are hoping the cranes will elevate Durban port to among the world’s best.

“Our aim is to invest in port infrastructure to make our ports competitive in relation to ports elsewhere in the world,” said Gigaba.

The acquisitions will see much faster loading and offloading of containers at Durban port, already the busiest in Africa. The cranes can lift up to 80 tons at a time and can accommodate the largest cargo ships with 24 containers across the deck.

Molefe said much of the harbour’s infrastructure was creaking from old age and the cranes, with a number of new roads, piers and rail improvements, are set to modernise the site. Transnet will invest R300 billion over seven years to improve infrastructure and the seven ports under the parastatal’s management are in line for a hefty portion.

Added to that will be a new dig-out port on the site of the old Durban airport. Development begins in 2016 and finishes in 2039.

• brett.horner@witness.co.za

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