STATE logistics group Transnet’s master plan for the development of SA’s ports includes proposed terminals for cruise liners in Cape Town and Durban, the doubling of exports of motor vehicles from Port Elizabeth, and a berth for oil rigs in Saldanha Bay.
The Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) unveiled a multi-decade plan to develop SA’s eight commercial ports to reduce the cost of doing business and improve the flow of goods, it said at the Johannesburg leg of a national road show on Thursday.
Transnet, which owns SA’s ports, rail and pipeline infrastructure, plays a central role in the logistics supply chain in southern Africa. TNPA owns all SA’s ports, although they are operated by Transnet Port Terminals.
Transnet is one of SA’s biggest investors in infrastructure.
Its seven-year market demand strategy includes investment of more than R300bn, primarily to increase the capacity of SA’s rail network. In the next seven years, TNPA will invest R57.6bn to improve the ports’ capacity.
However, there is no indication of the cost of investment plans beyond 2019, or how Transnet will fund the ports.
TNPA chief planner Nimi Ramchand said its 30-year plan and port growth plans beyond 2044 were not yet sanctioned, and cost estimates had therefore not been calculated.
The road show did not shed light on TNPA’s plans to open up the market by getting the private sector to operate terminals, which is required under the National Ports Act.
Although land ownership is set to remain with TNPA, the act calls for port operations to be put out to tender. Ms Ramchand said TNPA would assess port demand by looking at volumes of cargo, shipping technology, sustainability and the cost of capital.
Scenario planning and the formulation of national development strategies would be driven by Transnet’s intention to align demand with capacity.
However, further expansion of SA’s ports could cause port tariffs to spike.
Newly appointed Ports Regulator of SA CEO Mahesh Fakir will have to balance potentially high port tariff applications from Transnet with the government’s intentions to reduce port charges, which are already among the highest in the world.
The port development plans include recreational facilities at ports such East London and Port Elizabeth. In Cape Town, a request for proposals for a cruise liner terminal had gone out, said TNPA’s senior manager for capacity planning, Desmond Simpson.
Transnet would consider linking it with the VA Waterfront. Plans for a cruise liner terminal in Durban would connect with the Point Waterfront development.
TNPA also wants to rehabilitate berths along Maydon Wharf, and to create berths for deeper and longer vessels.
Ms Ramchand said Transnet was investigating how best to fund and operate the Durban dig-out port. Prefeasibility studies were being conducted in the lead-up to its construction.
Pre-planning of seven to 10 years was usually required before a new project was developed, Mr Simpson said.
Transnet’s commercial ports are in Richards Bay, Durban, East London, Ngqura, Port Elizabeth, Mossel Bay, Cape Town and Saldanha Bay. Port Nolloth, in the Northern Cape, is the only non-commercial port.
Durban’s new dig-out port will be SA’s 10th port, and is aimed at reducing congestion at the Durban port, which is SA’s largest.
Strike: Transnet, Numsa may meet
A STRIKE led by the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) at Transnet’s Ngqura Container Terminal, near Port Elizabeth, was unresolved on Thursday, its 14th day, the national transport and port utility said.
The strike, which has seen violence including petrol bombings and stonings, has sparked concern about the Nelson Mandela Bay area’s automotive industry, which relies heavily on imports and exports.
The container terminal is within the Port of Ngqura, in the Coega Industrial Development Zone. It is a container trans-shipment hub for global shipping companies, and is also used for the export of key commodities and agro-processing products.
Transnet has agreed to meet Numsa on Monday at its Carlton Centre headquarters in Johannesburg, subject to conditions, including that continuing strike action be conducted without violence, and that Numsa not involve workers at Port Elizabeth’s main port in the dispute.
“Regarding the meeting requested by Numsa, we are awaiting their response,” Siyabulela Mhlaluka, GM of Transnet Port Terminals in the Eastern Cape, said on Thursday.
Mr Mhlaluka said there had been “minimum disruption” to Transnet’s operations and to customers.
There had not been any delays in berthing vessels and no vessels had been diverted to other terminals, he said.
Transnet has locked out all striking workers since Monday last week.
“Though the strike is still ongoing, our colleagues affiliated to Transnet’s recognised unions, Satawu (the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union) and Utatu Sarwhu, who represent around 80% of (the container terminal workers), continue to work,” said Mr Mhlaluka.
Numsa’s Eastern Cape regional secretary, Phumzile Nodongwe, has rejected as a “blatant lie” Transnet’s claim that Numsa is a nonrecognised minority union at the container terminal. He said Numsa members made up about 500 of the 600 workers employed there.
But Eddie de Klerk, deputy general secretary of Utatu Sarwhu, said on Thursday his union and Satawu were not on strike at the terminal, and made up 491 of the 600 workers.
The strike comes as negotiations in a separate strike by 723 Numsa members at Continental Tyre, in the Nelson Mandela Bay metro area, are under way. The German tyre maker said it could continue limited production. — Mark Allix