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Durban Port is South Africa’s premier port and logistics hub. With the expected traffic increase over the next 10-20 years, it is believed that the port will not cope unless it undergoes major development. The container traffic grew by 18% in the last year. To this end Transnets proposed capacity expansion plans are focussed on Container Terminal capacity, focussing the port as the Container Hub of the region, whilst Richards Bay becomes the Dry Bulk hub.

According to Transnet, achieving this is an organisational priority that will require multiple phased investments, starting with the support of investment partnerships to modernize the terminal.

Durban Port Manager Mpumi Dweba advised that they anticipate the creation of about 500 000 direct and indirect employment opportunities throughout the implementation of the Durban Port Masterplan developments, which will improve the lives and livelihoods of the economically disenfranchised people of South Africa. On the basis of six to eight members per family, the lives of three-million people will be positively impacted.

Currently over 32000 people are employed directly in the port, and each support another 1.9 people in turn.

The diagram below, provided by Transnet, provides a good overview of the focus shift toward container capacity, and away from dry bulk. A smaller Naval satellite station will be kept at Durban, whilst the major Navy base will be housed in Richards Bay. There will also be emphasis placed on the car carrier terminal, and a revision and slight shifting of the cruise terminal. The demolition of the existing Ocean Teminal Building Complex has required the involvement of Amafa (The provincial Heritage Resources authority). Application was made to Amafa, and should their decision be favourable for demolition, “the port will begin with the plans set out for the demolition of the D/E, L, M, N Sheds, MHA Building, OTB, Durmarine Building, Schoeman’s bridge, and spiral ramp” according to the Engineering New article, with demolition expected to take place in early 2024.

According to Transnet, some of the other changes that will need to be made, include “a basin to be dug out in the existing Bayhead area. The area would have to be dredged, and quay walls constructed. Businesses currently operating will be affected. Sites for possible relocation will have to be identified, and rental agreements determined. The rail yard would be demolished and relocated in order to allow for penetration. The potential to create a new estuarine habitat next to the Bayhead site will be investigated. Developing this area would also entail reducing the current area reserved for shipbuilding.  The harbour channel would need to be dredged and widened along the Northern Route (Maydon Wharf). This will affect the sandbank. An extended natural heritage area, which includes a new ecosystem, will be created. A link road will need to be built to join Bayhead Road to Edwin Swales Drive.”

We look forward to watching these developments unfold.

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