Durban dig-out port – expert cautions ‘think again’

Artistic impression - Durban Dig-out Port

Artistic impression – Durban Dig-out Port

An international ports expert has expressed serious reservations about Durban’s proposed dig-out port. He said plans for a dig-out port should be put on hold, with efforts rather directed at maximising the existing facilities and potential at Durban Harbour.

International adviser and expert on port development Jamie Simpson, of Canada, has warned Transnet and the eThekwini Municipality against pursuing the dig-out port, saying the current port has to “keep going”. Simpson was a guest speaker at a ports and cities dialogue with Durban businesses, hosted by the municipality’s Edge (Economic Development and Growth eThekwini) at the Moses Mabhida Stadium yesterday. His point of view was supported by two other speakers.

However, Transnet group strategy general manager Irvindra Naidoo was adamant that the parastatal was forging ahead with the project, saying Durban was “running out of capacity” and had to expand.

Naidoo said: “The question was: ‘Okay, do we now go off somewhere else and develop a new maritime cluster around Richards Bay or somewhere else, or do we try to embed or strengthen the cluster… (by extending) the Durban port?’ That’s what this dig-out port really is about. It’s an extension of an existing cluster.”

The port, the continent’s busiest, caters for 2.6 million TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units) a year. These result in about 8 000 daily container-related heavy vehicle movements around the Bayhead area. Transnet has repeatedly said that the port will battle to provide the capacity for future demand.

Naidoo said with a dig-out port at the old Durban International Airport site, the containers could reach 8.2 million TEU by 2040, resulting in about 17 500 heavy vehicle movements daily in the South Durban Basin.

Simpson told the panel that the move “might not be a very good solution”. He said: “In view of the likely availability of financing – a lot of uncertainty – I think the port has to keep going and develop a capital investment plan and operational improvement plans to meet demand in the next five to 10 years.”

From there, he said, the parastatal could “weigh up” whether a bigger port “makes sense in view of market conditions… and availability of finance at the time”.

The first phase of construction of the dig-out port was expected to start between 2021 and 2025. A pre-feasibility study started in 2013. To read the full article click here! Source: iol.co.za

Durban dig-out port plan likely to be delayed

Old Durban airport - site for new Dig Out Port (Picture credit: ACSA)

Old Durban airport – site for new Dig Out Port (Picture credit: ACSA)

The first phase of Durban’s dig-out port, which was expected to generate hundreds of jobs and turn the city into the shipping hub of Africa, would not be ready by 2020 as planned, and the current harbour might have to be expanded to provide a short-term solution. This emerged at a KZN Freight Task Group meeting recently where Transnet dig-out port programme director Marc Descoins admitted that a new completion date was being investigated.

‘The actual start date of the new port is uncertain as we are still in the early design phase,’ Descoins said last night. Technical issues, such as the requirements for the construction of a new single buoy mooring to replace the existing one, were affecting timelines. Other factors affecting the development were being re-examined, but Descoins did not give further reasons for the delay.

Transnet was still tracking demand forecasts to ensure that capacity creation was aligned to demand, he said. Nevertheless it had other plans for port expansion to ensure capacity met this demand. If an alternative could be found to expand the capacity of the port, the dig-out port project at the old airport site could be set back by a few years, he said.

However, a previously discussed option – the expansion of the current port into the Bayhead area – was ruled out by Descoins, as complex problems involved in developing the area as an additional container terminal would take at least 15 years to resolve. Engineering and technical businesses in Bayhead did not appear shocked at the news yesterday, saying they knew expansion in the area would not happen.

One of the most seriously considered – and quickest – options would be for the container terminal on Pier 1 to be expanded in the direction of Salisbury Island. This would also provide Durban with increased container capacity. A decision on this could be made soon, but if this option was decided on, the dig-out port might be even further delayed as Transnet would not develop both projects and create unnecessary capacity in the short term.

However, the dig-out port project would not be cancelled, and preparations at the old airport site would continue, Descoins said. Transnet had warned that without the dig-out port Durban would not be able to meet medium- and long-term shipping capacity demand. The project would increase the volume of container trade at the Port of Durban from the current 2.69 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) to between 9 million and 12 million TEUs over 30 years.

Durban was also the first choice for a port upgrade because of its good infrastructure, although the road and rail systems need to be considerably upgraded. Completion of the feasibility study was scheduled for the end of 2015 followed by a four-year construction phase. The first ships were expected to come into the port in 2020. For this to have been achieved groundwork would have had to begin by the end of 2016. Transnet bought the old airport land in 2012 for R1.85 billion. Building the port was expected to cost R75bn to R100bn over the next 30 years.

Desmond D’Sa, chairman of the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance, was pleased with the delay, but said the project should be abandoned.

‘Why do we even need another port? It is only going to become another white elephant like the Coega Industrial Development Zone in the Eastern Cape.

‘This is all about people with big pockets, and the extra time will only allow corruption.’

Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Andrew Layman said imports and exports from the harbour were not accelerating as much as expected.

‘This is reflected in the international trading market. South Africa is not the flavour of the month.’

There had always been plans for expansion of the current harbour, he said.

‘This is because ships are bigger these days – it needs to be deepened and widened. So I don’t think it is a case of one or the other.

‘The need for the dig-out port is not as imminent as originally thought, and money is probably not as readily available either.’

Layman said it was not ‘a train smash’ as jobs had not been created yet, but it was unfortunate that job creation would be delayed.

‘It is understandable that it would be further delayed in the current climate.

‘It would be pre-emptive to start construction as the system still needs a lot of work, such as our tariffs, which are higher than most ports around the world, and our service delivery.’ Source: The Mercury

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Durban “Dig-out” port – a flagship PPP initiative?

Artistic impression – Durban Dig-out Port

Freight and Trade Weekly (FTW) reports that a team has been assembled to sort out the funding for the new dig-out port on the old Durban International Airport site (FTW November 9, 2012) – a project that represents a potential major shot in the arm for the economy of the region and the country. The consortium is composed of the well-known Dutch port consultants, MTBS; the highly respected international engineering firm, Arup; and Durban-based lawyers,Van Velden Pike Incorporated, in association with Nichols Attorneys.

This consortium is to act as transaction advisers to Transnet, on what is, according to government, likely to be SA’s flagship public/private sector partnership initiative.That will be part of the team’s studies, according to Andrew Pike, partner in Van Velden Pike. However, the study, although started, is still very much in pre-feasibility stage, and there is obviously still no firm comment to be made on what direction the public/private element will take, he told FTW.

Further abroad, AECOM has announced (Oct 2012) that Transnet has awarded the company a US$3.4-million contract to initiate the design of the Durban Dig Out Port in South Africa. AECOM’s has experience delivering creative design services for major ports around the world, such as the New Port Project in Doha, Qatar. As part of the contract, AECOM will provide concept and pre-feasibility design services for the new port and container terminals, including all associated infrastructure relating to its operation. A critical aspect of the design will be ensuring the sustainability of the port throughout the construction phase as well as all of the operational phases of its development.

The Mercury reports that work on the multi-billion rand project is expected to commence in July 2016, with the first phase of the project completed by 2019. Development of the project is to be over a 30-year period. The construction phase will provide an estimated 64,000 jobs, while 25,000 permanent jobs are envisaged in the functioning port.

The scale and details of the project are staggering. The port will involve liquid fuel, automotive and container cargoes. The siting of the entrance to the port will require the relocation of the Shell and BO Refinery’s (Sapref) single buoy mooring. The construction of the southern breakwater alone will absorb 16% of the total cost and will require special sources of quarry stone. Environmental concerns are being taken very seriously. For example R85-million has been budgeted to relocate some 2,000 chameleons which inhabit a part of the northern section of the airport site.

Of particular significance is that without the dig-out port, Durban will stagnate as a port of call and experience decline. Already Cape Town does not have the capacity or berths deep enough to handle the new generation of 18,000 TEU ships that are due soon. Durban’s proximity to the Witwatersrand makes it the logical and preferred destination for container shipping. Studies have shown that the old airport site is ideal for the construction of a new harbour designed specifically to manage the size and volume of container shipping. Durban’s geographical location in the southern hemisphere is particularly advantageous as regards intercontinental shipments from the east to South America and beyond to the north Atlantic. Sources: FTW, AECOM, and The Mercury.