The R5.4 billion, five-year expansion programme at the Cape Town container terminal continues to transform South Africa's second largest container facility into a modern facility that will be capable of handling nearly double its existing cargo capacity by 2012.
Major dredging, deepening and refurbishment work on the second of four berths is well underway and will be completed by May 2011. The first 100m of Berth 602 has been handed over recently to terminal operations. Coupled with the already refurbished Berth 601, this affords the terminal 420m of berth space to accommodate one large 305m vessel along its long quay.
Says Transnet Port Terminal's (TPT) Western Province Terminal Executive, Velile Dube: "There have been some challenges. Most significant of these is the complexity of maintaining uninterrupted operations at the container terminal while it is effectively a construction site.
"However we are well on our way towards transforming the container terminal into a modern four berth facility that will assist in meeting the demands of the rapid growth in the container sector."
The upgrades to all four berths and the Ben Schoeman Basin will enable larger new generation vessels to enter and 'park' safely at the container facility.
Inside the terminal, the fleet of harbour cranes has been beefed up to improve the efficiency of container handling. On Friday, 27 August, the fifth and sixth Liebherr ship-to-shore cranes were commissioned and worked on their first vessel on Monday, 30 August.
These cranes were slipped into position on Berth 601 by specialised trailers on 13 and 14 August. With a total of six new Liebherr cranes in place, Berth 601 offers high productivity container handling that is faster and more efficient.
The fleet of straddle carriers in Cape Town is also being phased out in favour of massive rubber-tyred gantry (RTG) cranes, which make better use of limited space by stacking six rows wide, five containers high and 30 deep.
To date 20 RTG cranes have been commissioned and handed over to the terminal, with the remaining eight scheduled for handover between the end of September and the end of October.
Four more RTGs and some of the straddle carriers are being transferred to Durban's container terminals.
Refrigerated containers, or reefers, will benefit from the handing over on 26 August of 864 reefer plug points in reefer block 1. The overall expansion programme will result in three reefer stacks with a total of 2,712 reefer points served by gantry cranes.
Human capital development has also been a major aspect of the expansion programme. The terminal's new cranes necessitated an aggressive training programme for operators of lifting equipment (OLEs), with 33 OLEs joining operations in August and bringing the total number of newly trained OLEs to 120. Additional training in operation of ship-to-shore cranes will take place from January 2011.
Dube said the five year expansion project is one of several Transnet projects taking place within South Africa's container sector, with the aim of creating additional capacity ahead of demand. By 2012, the capacity of the terminal will be 1.4 million TEUs, nearly double its existing 740,000 TEU capability.