AFTER massive performance improvements by Eastern Cape container terminals, the province is poised to receive multimillion rand investments in the next six years.
That is according to Transnet’s port terminals manager, Siya Mhlaluka, after Transnet’s Eastern Cape container terminals division ended 2012 by achieving new performance records last month.
The Ngqura container terminal achieved an increase of 66% in its container handling rate since opening in 2009, while the neighbouring Port Elizabeth container terminal showed a 27% improvement in its average performance during the same period.
"Sustained performance improvements are resulting in growing volumes, as shipping lines and their customers gain confidence in South Africa’s ability to handle cargo efficiently to ensure goods reach the end user as quickly and cost-effectively as possible,” Mhlaluka said.
He said year-on-year figures showed strong growth in container handling at both Eastern Cape terminals.
Mhlaluka said the province was therefore poised to benefit from several multimillion rand port investments in the next few years through the government’s renewed focus on growing the regional economy.
"Transnet’s R300-billion Market Demand Strategy [MDS] will see the port operator invest R33-billion in South Africa’s ports between 2012 and 2019.”
Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber chief executive Kevin Hustler agreed that these improvements would have a positive impact on the area.
"Increased handling capacities and improved efficiencies pave the way to position Nelson Mandela Bay as a transshipment hub and a gateway for container traffic into Southern Africa,” Hustler said.
Mhlaluka said the reason for these improvements was due to implementing innovative technology and programmes.
He said Transnet introduced some of the best technology and systems available at any African port and that the port operator was also addressing productivity challenges through staff programmes that encouraged motivation and accountability.
"The Eastern Cape has been a star performer in terms of operational performance at the ports. In the container sector alone, Transnet’s Eastern Cape terminals have seen handling norms improve every year, showing that our various interventions are bearing fruit.”
In its three years of operation, the Ngqura container terminal has employed more than 400 operational staff.
Transnet port terminal chief executive Karl Socikwa said the company’s operations offered a number of benefits for the province, the country and the sub-Saharan African region.
He said the port operator remained committed to encouraging infrastructure development and job creation by localising procurement in its management of the ports.