South Africa’s logistics utility has revealed major plans for the Port of Richards Bay, currently under extreme duress due to insufficient capacity to meet the demand for coal exports.
According to Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), these plans include increasing berths, hosting an energy-generating power ship, establishing a passenger terminal, and even relocating a naval base there – far from its original purpose.
Initially, Richards Bay was intended to be a major bulk port, with coal as its mainstay.
However, the Port of Richards Bay needs to reassess its role as it has developed and evolved, TNPA said.
To ensure its sustainability and adapt to shifts in international trade, it has implemented a “19-project plan”.
To succeed in this endeavour, it must design new operational models and service offerings.
The announcement by the state-owned freight and rail company comes at a time when TNPA is under pressure from issues caused by trucks grid-locking roads to the port and the port precinct itself.
This is a result of the insufficient rail capacity to transport coal to the port’s terminals.
Previously, Richards Bay was used to receive coal by rail from south-eastern Mpumalanga and northern KwaZulu-Natal, intended for export since the mid-70s.
Despite the impact of the coal crisis on efficiencies, the port has always diversified its offerings, TNPA said.
These projects are in various stages of delivery and comply with environmental requirements, adapting to new demands and shipping changes.
Thami Sithole, the program director of the Richards Bay Master Plan, said, “We are aware of our mandate and are proceeding with our plans to stand alongside the other ports of South Africa – particularly Durban.”
The 19 projects mentioned are: a new berth for liquid natural gas (LNG), relocation of the SA Navy to Naval Island and Pelican Island, provision for relocated bulk commodities, reconfiguration of Bayvue Railyard, two allocated liquid bulk sites, additional chrome storage at Mega Chrome Terminal, relocation of South 32 stockyard, provision for a container handling facility, Karpowership area, new berth 605, new berths 802 and 803 at what is known as Mega Terminal, extension of the ferro slab to accommodate future growth, new berths 709 and 710 for neo bulk, future LNG storage sites, new berth 210 for liquid bulk, two future liquid bulk sites, environmental offset land, a passenger terminal, and the Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone.