Durban Dugout versus [nuwe] Transvaalse Tamboekiesfontein

While on the topic of port expansion, an acquaintance of mine reminded me of another development, right here in my backyard. He was referring to Inframax Holding’s proposed development of an inland mega-port and logistics gateway 25 km southeast of the Johannesburg CBD. The 630ha site identified for this project will be called Tambo Springs and is located on land originally known as Tamboekiesfontein farm.

Tambo Springs Logistics Port

Gauteng is the largest metropolitan area in Africa, and one of the largest in the world, with a population of 10 million people generating the largest annual GDP in Africa. Inframax’s vision is to develop this site, and potentially add another 600ha, into a new inland port and logistics gateway that will contribute significantly to meeting Gauteng’s need to increase the current freight logistics capacity/throughput in and out of Johannesburg, to three million twenty-foot-equivalent units (TEUs) by 2015 and four million TEUs by 2020 – with further increases after that.

According to locally born, Texas-based logistics consultant, Franco Eleuteri and Associates, the logistics challenges now faced in Johannesburg/Gauteng have cropped up worldwide wherever cities have expanded fast. Typically, the original logistics centres were developed on the city peripheries. Over the years, however, these cities grow and absorb the centres, making it difficult to expand or upgrade to accommodate new demands. This is basically what is happening to Johannesburg’s City Deep Terminal, which was established in 1977 as a bonded inland container depot where containers from Durban could clear customs in Johannesburg. City Deep still has a vital role to play but the time has come to have it operating in tandem with a larger inland port or ports on the new city periphery and able to accommodate a large efficient intermodal capability for road, rail and air transport. This is fundamental to any 21st Century freight operation.

Tambo Springs is exceptionally well positioned as it is located in the southern periphery of Johannesburg and within the Johannesburg/Durban road freight and rail corridor. It has access to the N3 freeway to Durban (South Africa’s major freight transport route), to the N1 to Cape Town and via the R390, to Port Elizabeth and East London as well as to other freeways to the industrial centres just south of Johannesburg: Heidelberg, Vereeniging, Vanderbijl Park and Sasolburg, all of which are within 20 to 60km.

The site is also only 22km from the City Deep Terminal and 25km from the OR Tambo Air Freight Terminal. These excellent road linkages will allow the site to accommodate both full truck load (FTL) long distance road freight and less than truck load (LTL) regional distribution. On the freight rail side the existing dual directional links already run through the site to all the areas mentioned above. Accordingly, the Tambo Springs development can contribute significantly to optimising the country’s existing infrastructure, particularly that of the Ngqura Deep Water Port near Port Elizabeth. More optimal usage has the potential to increase this Eastern Corridor’s share of South Africa’s freight handling from about 14% to 21% in future. This is important given congestion at Durban harbour.

Inframax has from the outset engaged with key public sector authorities and agencies to canvass in principle policy support for the initiative. These include Gauteng Department of Economic Development; Blue IQ; Transnet Freight Rail and Ekurhuleni Municipality. What is not clear, however, is whether or not Inframax has read the draft Customs Control Bill, which at this point would effectively create a barrier to such development. These are interesting times: a test  as to whether business and trade ‘really’ determine economic and logistics opportunities, or whether policy makers have the vision to see the bigger picture.


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