Port of Durban
Port Commerce

The Transnet National Ports Authority develops port rules for South Africa's seaports under the National Ports Act No. 12 of 2005. The National Ports Act aimed at modernizing ports and making operations more efficient. Under the National Ports Act, the Transnet National Ports Authority is responsible for controlling and managing ports, including maintaining safety and security.

Transnet is a focused freight transport company that seeks to deliver integrated, efficient, safe, reliable, and affordable services that promote economic growth in South Africa. They do this by working to increase their market share, improve profitability and productivity, and provide sufficient capacity that anticipates their customers' needs.

Transnet Port Terminals operates in South Africa's seaports in four sectors. It operates four container terminals in Durban (two terminals), Port Elizabeth, and Cape Town. Transnet has seven multi-purpose terminals handling bulk and breakbulk cargoes at Durban, Port Elizabeth, Cape Town, Richards Bay, East London, and Saldanha. It operates three dry bulk terminals in Durban (Agriport), Saldanha, and Richards Bay.

The Port of Durban is one of the world's most important commercial ports. Development of the harbor began in 1855. In addition to being a major container port, the Port of Durban is an entry point for bulk raw materials, capital goods, and industrial equipment. Exports include minerals, sugar, grain, and coal. Oil is refined in the Port of Durban and piped to Johannesburg.

The Port of Durban handles more sea-going traffic than any port in southern Africa. During the fiscal year ending March 2009, the Port of Durban was visited by 4554 ocean-going ships. The Port of Durban handled a total of almost 74.7 million tons of cargo, including nearly 42.6 million tons of imports, 23.5 million tons of exports, and 8.6 million tons of transshipments. The Port of Durban handled 34.2 million tons of bulk cargoes, including over 27.0 million tons of imports, over 7.0 million tons of exports, and almost 82 thousand tons of transshipments. The Port of Durban handled a total of over 5.9 million tons of breakbulk cargoes, including almost 2.7 million tons of imports, over 3.0 million tons of exports, and 189.4 thousand tons of transshipments.

During the 2008-2009 shipping season, the Port of Durban handled 2.56 million TEUs of containers with 34.6 million tons of cargo. Of these, over 948.2 thousand TEUs were imports, 994.6 thousand TEUs were exports, and 617.5 TEUs were transshipments. During the season, the Port of Durban handled over 60% of all containers handled by South African ports. The Port of Durban Car Terminal, the country's biggest import/export facility for the motor industry, handled more than 372.5 thousand units, including 184.5 thousand imports, 182.1 thousand exports, and almost six thousand transshipments.

The Port of Durban covers a total of over 1.8 thousand hectares of land and water, and it is protected by two breakwaters that are 335 and 700 meters (1099 and 2296 feet) long. The Port of Durban contains 302 kilometers of rail tracks, and the harbor is only one block from the Port of Durban's Central Business District. More than four thousand commercial vessels call at the Port of Durban's 59 berths each year. While the port was initially developed for imports, exports have become more dominant over the years.

Pilotage is required for all vessels entering the Port of Durban from a point 4.8 kilometers northeast of the entrance to the port, and tug assistance is also required. The Port of Durban offers extensive safe anchorage outside the port. The Port of Durban has 59 berths (not counting fishing and ship repair) and an inner anchorage in the bay. Operating 24 hours a day, the entrance channel is 19 meters (62.3 feet) deep and 222 meters (728.3 feet) wide. Vessels up to 300 meters (984.2 feet) long and 37 meters (121.4 feet) wide can easily enter the port. The port operates a fleet of tugs owned and operated by the National Ports Authority (NPA), and the NPA conducts dredging on an ongoing basis.

Operating on a common-user basis, the Port of Durban has five business units managed by Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) that include the Durban Container Terminal, Pier 1 Container Terminal, the Multi-purpose City Terminal, the Durban Car Terminal, and Maydon Wharf Terminal. Other terminals in the Port of Durban are operated by private companies. These include the Bluff Coaling Terminal, the Island View Oil and Petroleum Complex, the Fresh Produce Terminal and a fruit terminal at Maydon Wharf, the Sugar Terminal, Wood Chip Terminal, and SA Bulk Terminals. Many private facilities are located at Maydon Wharf.

  • Container terminals

The Port of Durban is Africa's biggest container port in terms of capacity. Located on some of the world's busiest shipping routes, it is South Africa's main port for general cargo and containers. The Port of Durban handles an average of 83 thousand containers each month at the Port of Durban Container Terminal, the largest container terminal in the southern hemisphere.

Serving as a hub for containers from Australasia, the Middle and Far East, and the Indian Ocean, the Port of Durban Container Terminal is South Africa's largest. The terminal opened in 1977, and today it handles about 1.5 million containers per year, including general purpose containers, reefers, abnormal containers, and Tanktainers. The Port of Durban Container Terminal covers a total area of 102 hectares, and the container stacking area is 26.3 hectares.

The Port of Durban Container Terminal has seven berths with 2128 meters (almost seven thousand feet) of quays with alongside depth of 11.8 meters (38.7 feet). There are also three berths on Pier 1 that are used for containers. There are almost 15 thousand TEU ground slots and 1117 reefer plug points in the Port of Durban Container Terminal. The Port of Durban Container Terminal is equipped with 19 45-ton quayside gantry cranes, 120 35-ton straddle carriers, three 45-ton rail transfer cranes, one 45-ton reach stacker, 22 35-ton telescopic spreaders, and 32 48-ton internal haulers. A Port of Durban rail terminal distributes containers to Johannesburg and to destinations in Africa as far away as Zambia.

Transnet Port Terminals operates the Pier 1 Terminal, handling containers as well as malt and malt products. The Port of Durban's Pier 1 Terminal contains 1113 ground slots and 90 reefer slots. It is equipped with two gantry cranes, a mobile crane with 100-ton lift, four reach stackers, 43 tractors, 21 bathtub trailers, 50 multi-purpose trailers, 14 skip trailers, a drawbar trailer, and 17 straddle carriers.

The Port of Durban's Pier 1 Terminal contains eight berths and the harbor craft quay. The eight berths have total berthing distance of 1990 meters (6529 feet). Berths 101 through 106 have alongside depth of 12.8 meters (42 feet), and Berth 100 has alongside depth of 9.1 meters (29.9 feet). The harbor craft quay at the Port of Durban's Pier 1 Terminal has berthing distance of 103 meters (337.9 feet) with alongside depth of 6.1 meters (20 feet).

Greystones Enterprises (website under construction) operates a Container Freight Station in the Port of Durban that is served by rail siding and roads. The facility offers the full range of services that include container stuffing and de-stuffing and cargo unitizing, including palletizing and bagging.

  • Bulk and breakbulk terminals

The Port of Durban's Multi-Purpose Terminal is located at Pier 1. In addition to supporting the container traffic at the Durban Container Terminal, the Multi-Purpose Terminal handles imports and exports of bulk and breakbulk cargoes. The terminal has 14 berths across Pier 1, the Point, and at the T-Jetty in the Port of Durban. In addition to containers, products that pass through the Port of Durban's Multi-Purpose Terminal include ferro-alloys, steel, granite, fruit, and rice.

The Port of Durban's Agriport is located at Maydon Wharf. This multi-purpose terminal handles a variety of cargo including neo-bulk, breakbulk, and containers. Agriport is a joint venture between Viamax and Transnet. The Port of Durban's Agriport has the first grain elevator in any South African port and has capacity for 42 thousand tons of cargo. A wood chipping plant is located beside Agriport. The Agriport Elevator is located at Maydon Wharf's Berth 8 in the Port of Durban. Its grain silos have storage capacity for 68 thousand tons of grain, 68 thousand tons of woodchips, and 25 thousand tons of soya meal.

The Port of Durban's Point is the location for agricultural bulk and roll-on/roll-off terminals that handle steel, fruit, rice, timber, granite, and containers. A new deep-water quay contains six up-to-date berthing facilities that support the larger deep-draught vessels. A 20-hectare cargo-handling and stack space is located behind the quay wall. Transnet has two 1.5-acre and one 4.9-acre sheds that provide a stacking or pre-assembly area for breakbulk cargoes and containers.

Additional terminals agriculture bulk and roll-on/roll-off terminals are located at the Port of Durban's Maydon Wharf. Located in a cluster of privately-operated terminals, Transnet Port Terminals operates several specialist terminals that serve niche markets, handling cargoes like fertilizers, salt, mineral products, scrap metal, steel, and forest products.

The Port of Durban's Maydon Wharf contains 15 berths and the fish wharf and jetty. The 15 cargo berths have a total quay length of 2809 meters (9216 feet) with alongside depths of 6.1, 9.9, 10.4, and 10.6 meters (20, 32.5, 34.1, and 34.8 feet). The fish wharf and jetty offers berthing distance of 441 meters (1447 feet) with alongside depth of 6.1 meters (20 feet). Transnet has access to private warehouses at the Port of Durban's Maydon Wharf.

There are several privately-owned bulk storage and handling facilities in the Port of Durban. Outspan International operates a citrus terminal at the Port of Durban's Point with storage capacity of 176.2 thousand cubic meters for over 17.5 thousand pallets in 13 holding chambers. The Port of Durban's Citrus Terminal also has 72 rapid-cooling tunnels with capacity of 7.8 thousand cubic meters for 3456 pallets. The container area has capacity for 2356 cubic meters for 1040 pallets. The Citrus Terminal in the Port of Durban can handle 2000 pallets per day.

SA Terminals operates a Bulk-Sugar Terminal at Berth 2 at the Maydon Wharf. It has capacity for 520 thousand tons in silos and for 57 thousand tons at the bagged sugar warehouse. The Bulk-Sugar Terminal in the Port of Durban can handle as much as 1000 tons per hour.

Rennies Bulk Terminals operates multi-product bulk handling facilities at Berth 5 at the Maydon Wharf in the Port of Durban. Products include wheat, rice, maize (corn), soda ash, fluorspar, soya meal, and palletized protein feeds. The terminal can store 100 thousand tons of agricultural products and 40 thousand tons of mineral products. This Port of Durban facility can bag 750 tons per day.

Bulk Connections operates a loading facility for bulk coal at Berths 2 through 4 at the Port of Durban's Bluff facility. The facility has capacity for 250 thousand tons of coal. ICI operates a bulk soda ash facility with capacity for 24 thousand tons at Berth 14 at the Port of Durban's Maydon Wharf.

Durban Bulk Shipping operates a multi-product bulk shipping terminal at Berth 3 at the Port of Durban's Island View facilities. Products include wheat, maize and maize products, vegetable oils, ores, and minerals. The Durban Bulk Shipping multi-purpose facility has capacity to store 68 thousand tons of bulk maize products, eight thousand tons of both andalucite and mono-calcium phosphates, 33.5 thousand tons of coal, 24 thousand tons of chrome ore, and 4956 cubic meters of vegetable oils.

Bluff Mechanical Appliance operates at Berths 1 through 4 at the Bluff Terminal handling coke, coal, mineral products, fertilizer, and sulfur. The terminal has capacity for 40 thousand tons of cargo. It is equipped with a belt loader, two bucket loaders, and two grab unloaders. The four berths have total berthing distance of 743 meters (2438 feet) with alongside depths of 9.1, 10.3, and 10.6 meters (29.9, 33.8, and 34.8 feet).

  • Oil / liquid terminals

The Port of Durban's Island View facilities contain nine berths with total berthing distance of 1800 meters (5905 feet) with alongside depths of 10.6, 10.9, and 12.8 meters (34.8, 35.8, and 42 feet). The companies operating cargo-handling facilities at Island View include Durban Bulk Shipping, Vopak Island View Storage, Sapref/Engen/Total, and Bidfreight. The cargoes include liquid bulk, grains, vegetable oils, chemicals, and petroleum products. Durban Bulk Shipping has covered storage for 69 thousand tons of grain and 5.6 hectares for vegetable oils in the Port of Durban's Island View terminal area. Vopak has storage capacity for 130 thousand cubic meters in 152 storage tanks. IVO has 400 storage tanks with total capacity for 354 thousand cubic meters at the Island View terminal.

Another privately-owned storage and handling facility for oil and liquid cargoes in the Port of Durban is operated by Tate & Lyle. Their bulk molasses facility at Maydon Wharf's Berth 9 has capacity to store 48 thousand tons of molasses.

  • Ro/Ro terminals

Operated by Transnet Port Terminals, the Port of Durban's Car Terminal is a common user facility that serves most of South Africa's motor manufacturers and vehicle importers. Handling 66% of the nation's vehicle imports and exports, the Port of Durban Car Terminal was designed specifically for these roll-on/roll-off cargoes. Other cargoes pass through the Car Terminal in the Port of Durban including abnormally heavy loads like earth-moving equipment and related equipment.

The Port of Durban Car Terminal consists of three linked quays with alongside depths up to 10.9 meters (35.8 feet) that can accommodate large vessels, and it has capacity to move 570 thousand units per year. The terminal has ready rail and road access. It also contains vehicle inspection facilities and wash bays to assure convenient one-stop services for its customers. The Port of Durban Car Terminal has three berths for Pure Car/Truck Carrier vessels with additional berthing space nearby.

The terminal has 15 thousand vehicle slots and a dedicated overhead link bridge from Berths Q and R to the terminal. Rail sidings are located within the terminal. The terminal is supported by a state-of-the-art tracking system that monitors cargo movements from arrival to departure at the facility. The system manages both administrative and operational processes and provides real-time information for terminal operations and customers. Enhanced with electronic data interchange, the system is directly linked to vehicle manufacturers to assure ongoing communications in the logistics chain.

  • Cruise terminals

There is a modern passenger terminal in the Port of Durban at the N Berth on the T-Jetty. Operating primarily from November through May, the terminal can berth three cruise ships simultaneously. A new cruise terminal is also under construction at the A Berth near the Point Waterfront.

  • Tug boat operators

Transnet owns and operates a fleet of tugs in the Port of Durban with bollard pull between 34 and 70 tons. Each tug is equipped for fire-fighting and salvage operations and is maintained to SAMSA Class-8 standards. The tug boat fleet handles more than 800 ship movements every year. There are four tugs on duty during the day and at least two at night. When helicopter service is not available for Port of Durban pilots, two diesel-powered pilot boats are used.

  • Port services

The Port of Durban maintains wide-ranging ship repair facilities, and it is reviewing proposals for a private dry dock at the Dormac Marine Shipyard. The ship repair facilities at Bayhead include a graving dock with berthing distance of 79 meters (259.2 feet) with design depth of 11.3 meters (37.1 feet), a repair quay with berthing distance of 155 meters (508.5 feet) with design depth of 6.1 meters (20 feet), and a ship repair jetty with berthing distance of 413 meters (1355 feet) with design depth of 8.5 meters (27.9 feet). The department repair jetty has berthing distance of 300 meters (984.2 feet) with design depth of 6.1 meters (20 feet). The fish wharf at Bayhead has berthing distance of 152 meters (498.7 feet) with design depth of 4.8 meters (15.7 feet).

Transnet operates one of three floating docks in the Port of Durban. The Transnet dock is 109 meters (357.6 feet) long and has 4500 tons of displaced lifting capacity. South Africa's only privately-owned floating dock is operated by Elgin Brown & Hamer. It is 155 meters long (508.5 feet) and has 8500 tons lifting capacity. The third floating dock in the Port of Durban 50 meters (164 feet) long and is used to launch the new Port of Durban tugs constructed at the SA Shipyards. The dock can also be used for ship repairs.

Transnet performs ongoing dredging in the Port of Durban and outside the entrance to the port to prevent the reoccurrence of the infamous Bar across the entrance channel. Dredged sand is moved to a reclamation point near the Port of Durban's northern breakwater for use by the municipality on Durban's beaches. Port of Durban channels are cleared by the grab dredger, and a dragging plough moves accumulated silt from wharfside to the adjacent channel.

The Port of Durban has three marinas for yachts, and port and city authorities have proposed a new combined marina waterfront development. The Port of Durban's main marina, the Wilson's Wharf Marina, is opposite the Esplanade and is served by the Royal Natal Yacht Club and the Point Yacht Club. This marina is used by motor vessels and the Bluff Yacht Club facility. A new marina is being built outside the harbor entrance, and the Port of Durban is joining the city to create a combined marina development at the waterfront. The Port of Durban offers a range of recreational activities in Durban Bay. In the mangrove swamps Heritage Site, fishing from boats and bird watching are popular activities. In Durban Bay, many canoers, kayakers, and parasailors enjoy the facilities. Public sight-seeing tours are available from ferries and launches in the bay.

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