South Africa's state-owned Transnet National Port Authority (TNPA) plans to spend ZAR21.3 billion (US$2.62 billion) on infrastructure, much of it focussed on the Port of Durban's Pier 1 Container Terminal to increase its capacity to 820,000 TEU by next year and to 1.2 million TEU by 2017.
The North Quay at DCT's Pier 2 will also be extended to increase capacity from the 2.1 million TEU to 2.5 million TEU by 2014, increasing against to 3.3 million TEU by 2018, reports the UK's Port Strategy.
The focus is to enable Durban to handle ships of 9,500 TEU or more, which involves dredging the harbour to end the practice of discharging cargo aboard barges to lighten ships enough to dock.
Thus, the North Quay is being dredged four metres more to 16.5 metres and channel widened to 19 metres. Quay walls now surpassing load limits will be upgraded beyond the 4-tonne crane capacity limit.
Slowing progress are expected environmental hearings and economic impact studies that are expected to delay completion to four to five years, said the report. There are expections that cargo will be diverted to Port of Ngqura in the Eastern Cape.
Asked what the biggest problem to advancement is, Herschel Maasdorp of the Dutch-based STC-SA maritime consultancy, said: "It is a people issue. In the past the culture of productivity among employees may have come second to employment security. So, appropriate engagement with organised labour is a key factor, which needs to be re-enforced with incentives for productivity."
Transnet, said Mr Maasdorp, is prepared to spend. Over the next three years more than ZAR100 million will be invested training.