Dig-out port a ‘no go’ until 2030

The proposed dig-out port is a definite ‘no go’ until at least 2030, as Transnet opts to implement short-term solutions.

The news that the dig-out port has been placed on the back burner for further review closer to 2030 was officially confirmed by Durban Ports manager, Moshe Motlohi in response to a question from ward 97 councillor, Andre Beetge on Tuesday, 14 February. It took place during a joint KZN legislature and councillor oversight visit of Durban Harbour.

Besides a select group of members of the provincial legislature and councillors, the meeting under chairmanship of TNPA Ceo Richard Vallihu, included the Richards Bay Harbour manager and various top senior officials from Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA). Discussions included harbour efficiency, job opportunities, Operation Phakisa, a fast results delivery programme launched in July 2014 to help implement the National Development Plan, and co-operative governance.

Durban’s annual 350 millions tons of cargo accounts for 60% of SA imports that arrive in order of percentage from the European Union, China, USA, Nigeria, India, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Thailand, Angola and United Arab Emirates. The top 10 export destinations in order of percentage are listed as the European Union, China, USA, Namibia, Japan, India, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Hong Kong.

Although Durban Harbour retains the number one position as the busiest harbour in sub Saharan Africa and fourth in the Southern Hemisphere, it relinquished second position in Africa, resulting in a third position behind Port Said in Egypt. That, in turn, relinquished first for second busiest to a new roleplayer in the market, the four-year-old cargo port Tanger Med off the coast of Morocco.

These and other constantly changing factors that include an increased number of road corridors into Central Africa (total of 10 into the DRC), have necessitated adaptive planning.

While TNPA envisages an accumulative contribution of R137-billion to the GDP by 2033, the harbour’s existing pier one is being extended to accommodate an annual additional one million containers.

Existing berths closer to the sugar terminals are being widened and deepened to accommodate larger ships, at an envisaged cost of R14.4-billion by 2022/3, as opposed to the inception of the dig-out port off the Prospecton coast.

“While it was exciting to both hear and also see the fifth of nine locally-built tugboats that were launched as part of an ongoing R1.4-billion operation, it was of concern to note that Durban Harbour is now playing third fiddle on the African continent,” said Cllr Beetge.

“The reality is that South Africa no longer holds all the trump cards, which in turn has direct implications for the man on the street.

Shelving the dig-out port project affects thousands of people in the south, as there are no contingency projects to replace its promised and much-needed job opportunities.”

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Earl Baillache

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