Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Bulk and Break Bulk Port Celebrates 40 Years of Freight Handling

Growth from a Small Harbour to Major Deep Water Cargo Facility
Shipping News Feature
SOUTH AFRICA – The Port of Richards Bay, which claims the title of the country’s premier port for bulk cargoes, commemorates 40 Years of service this month and the port authorities plan to hold several celebratory events over the coming months. Established in 1976 after overcoming the fact that the geography of the area was not conducive to receiving freight vessels of any size, the deep water port was created for the purpose of transporting locally-mined coal to international markets. Chief Executive of Transnet National Ports Authority, Richard Vallihu commented:

”When you consider that this area was once seen as one lacking in potential as a harbour, the rise of the port and the town as a whole becomes that much more remarkable. The success of the Port of Richards Bay over these past 40 years demonstrates the capabilities of the country and our ports in providing a system of growth that is beneficial to the surrounding communities, promoting careers and business opportunities in the maritime industry.”

Nowadays the port handles all manner of commodities including magnetite, chrome ore, alumina, coking coal and ferro alloys, all this in addition to the port’s main line of export, coal. Its existence has led to the creation of other industries within Richards Bay, providing thousands of direct and indirect job opportunities for the people of the city and in turn, transforming the small fishing village into an industrial hub, while supporting big businesses such as Richards Bay Coal Terminal, BHP Billiton, Richards Bay Minerals and Foskor.

The port’s 23 berths, specialised cargo handling facilities, fast vessel turnaround, deep-water infrastructure, excellent rail links to the hinterland and its large greenfield development potential, has made the Port of Richards Bay one of the world’s leading bulk ports and in 2010-11 it broke the one million rand turnover mark for the first time, going on to handle around 100 million tonnes of bulk and break bulk cargo in the 2015/2016 financial year.

Future planning at the port is in line with the South African government’s National Growth plan, and in particular the Operation Phakisa initiative where the main objectives are economic development, job creation and skills development. Preston Khomo, Richards Bay Port Manager, said the achievements of the port showcased the key aspect of working together to build the standing of an entire public. He observed:

“The continued success of the Port of Richards Bay will be dependent upon partnerships with business and the community, and we see this landmark anniversary as a means through which these relationships can be strengthened.”

Photo: The breakthrough of the Port of Richards Bay’s entrance channel prior to its opening 40 years ago, with (inset) the port as it looks today.