R1.1bn Ngqura upgrade on track

Cindy Preller

A R1.1-billion upgrade at Ngqura’s container terminal is well under way, strengthening the Port of Nqura’s position as it bids to become the transshipment hub of Africa. The expansion of the terminal from a two-berth to a three-berth operation started in December and should be completed by the end of July, Transnet Port Terminals general manager: operations Eastern Cape terminals Siya Mhlaluka said.

“The terminal’s capacity will now increase from 800000 twenty-foot equivalent (TEU) containers to 1.5-million TEU’s. The increased capacity will enable the terminal to improve efficiencies, with faster turnaround time and reduce berth occupancy. This will create more than 150 full-time jobs across operations and technical departments,” Mhlaluka said.

The new equipment for the third berth includes 18 rubber-tyred gantry cranes, two ship-to-shore cranes, three out-of-gauge trailers, 48 haulers and 48 trailers, two reach stackers and four empty container handlers.

The workshop, mess and ablution facilities and buildings also form a part of the upgrade.

He said the two berths at Ngqura would not be affected by the upgrade since the new equipment was being assembled elsewhere in the port before it was moved to the third berth, which formed part of the original construction of the harbour.

Twice cited in the Drewry maritime research report as the fastest-growing container terminal in the world year-on-year for volume growth, the first container vessel was handled at the Ngqura Container Terminal in October 2009.

The terminal increased its volumes by 52% in the last year, compared to growth in previous years of 23% (2012-2013)and 24% (2011-2012). The terminal acts as a transfer point for cargo destined for other regional and international ports and employs more than 500 people.

The terminal has seen substantial growth year- on-year, from 78 935 TEUs handled in the 2009-2010 financial year, to 623565 TEUs last year. Over the next seven years, Transnet plans to invest R300-billion in the country’s freight infrastructure, of which R26-billion will be invested in the Eastern Cape.

Another recent investment in the terminal is the R140-million on an automated mooring system to stabilise massive container ships in gale-force winds.

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