Durban Dig-Out Port – First Stakeholder Engagement Concluded

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

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

Transnet has concluded the first in a series of early stakeholder engagement sessions with local organisations on the proposed Durban dig-out port project. If built, the new port will be to the south of Durban on the site of the former Durban International Airport and 15 minutes by car from the existing port. It has been proposed that it will consist of 16 container berths, three Ro-Ro berths for the automotive business, and several oil and product tanker berths.

The engagement sessions just concluded form an integral part of the project’s concept phase which includes the development of a Sustainable Port Development Framework (SPDF) that will inform all future designs as well as operations. Transnet commenced with high-level technical and environmental studies in 2012 as part of the proposed Durban dig-out port project process. The current concept phase is scheduled to conclude in July this year, and comprises the generation of a number of technical design options.

The engagement sessions involved key representatives from local business, property, environmental and civic associations who met in order to comment on a discussion document which was distributed to them in mid-February 2013. The discussion document included important information on the background to, and process involved in, validating the viability of constructing a major container port on the site of the old Durban International Airport.

The sessions were held at various public venues and were facilitated by an independent sustainability consultancy. All feedback obtained during the engagement sessions was captured and will be factored into the development of the SPDF which will ensure the effective implementation of sustainability objectives throughout the life cycle of the proposed port project.

Along with promoting the long-term sustainability and operational excellence of the port, the framework also seeks to integrate environmental and social principles into the planning process. The series of engagement sessions, which will continue throughout the project’s lifespan, will also form part of the Department of Transport’s requirement for engagement during the strategic level environmental assessment as part of the legislative requirement for the promulgation of the port.

The process of moving from the current concept phase through the pre-feasibility and feasibility phases, and finally to actual implementation is anticipated to take approximately four years. The next phase, which is the pre-feasibility phase, is expected to proceed in July this year when the viability of the preferred design option will be thoroughly investigated.

The proposed port forms a key pillar of Government’s Strategic Integrated Projects (SIPs) to upgrade the Durban-Free State-Gauteng Freight Corridor (otherwise known as SIP2 in the National Infrastructure Plan). Source: Ports.co.za

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.