New heights for Durban container terminal

Jun 19, 2003
Author: P&S


Despite all the criticism Durban’s beleaguered container terminal keeps on breaking records for the number of containers handled.

And while achieving these record volumes the terminal is managing to keep ship delays well within acceptable limits of below 10 hours, with only bad weather causing delays.

During the 12 months June 2002 – May 2003 the terminal handled 1.360 million TEUs (twenty foot equivalents), with its highest ever turnover of 91 054 containers (or 120 727 TEUs) in May this year. This was achieved in spite of having one terminal crane down for repairs.

The previous record of 90 908 containers (119 269 TEUs) was posted in November 2002, which is a more typical peak month.

The surge in volumes suggests the port can expect strong pressure on productivity and efficiency during the latter half of 2003, typically the time when the terminal will handle up to 60 % of its annual throughput.

In another emerging trend ships arriving in port are both larger and carry more cargo for discharge or loading. Since 1994/95 the average number of container per ship has increased from 403 to 690 in 2002/3, but averages tell only part of the story – in recent weeks several ships arriving in Durban have carried upwards of 3 000 containers for discharge, which has added to the pressure on terminal efficiency levels.

The emerging trends serve to confirm how urgently the port needs additional equipment, in particular container cranes, especially with the peak months of July – November that lie ahead. With more and more ships arrive with 2 500 plus containers for offloading and loading, the port needs to be in a position to place three or even four gantry cranes alongside simply to turn the ship round in the same time as with the smaller cargoes.

SA Port Operations are in the process of leasing three additional cranes from Europe, which could arrive within months. A further three are to be purchased but will take up to two years for delivery.

Container Volumes for Port of Durban Container Terminal

Month/Year TEUs
Jan 2002 95,725
Feb 2002 96,411
Mar 2002 105,095
Apr 2002 103,540
May 2002 111,335
June 2002 109,251
July 2002 113,075
Aug 2002 116,133
Sept 2002 110,194
Oct 2002 109,269
Nov 2002 119,316
Dec 2002 113,640
Jan 2003 112,802
Feb 2003 107,135
Mar 2003 113,844
Apr 2003 115,328
May 2003 120,727


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