Durban Harbour gears up for megaships

Kaveel Singh

Durban – The Durban Harbour will undergo major maintenance to its docking sites to handle its increasing traffic of megaships, the Transnet National Port Authority has said.

With massive ships now entering Durban Harbour, the ports authority said ongoing efforts had been made to address “shallow spots”.

In a statement, Durban Port Manager Moshe Motlohi said: "The vessels calling at our ports have gotten bigger and therefore require deeper draughts. But they also cause challenges for ports because of the manner in which they more aggressively displace material from the sea bed, thus causing shallow spots.

"Shallower berths can cut into the vessel payloads of ship owners because it means they cannot sail into the port with their vessels fully laden and have to wait for high tide to sail or berth."

Motlohi added that Transnet will also be taking delivery of a new suction hopper dredger, the Ilembe, in December. It will be used to dredge larger areas such as the entrance channels.

"Transnet has also received approval to build a new grab hopper dredger dedicated to the port, which should be delivered by the end of 2016."

The challenge presented by megaships calling at ports is presently a global phenomenon.

"This was highlighted in a recent report by the International Transport Forum, which said mega container ships contribute to congestion and add to the need for costly infrastructure upgrades," Motlohi said.

He said Transnet was continuing with maintenance dredging and pushing forward its R2bn dredging fleet replacement programme.