Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) has reiterated its commitment to developing the Port of East London in a bid to support economic growth in Buffalo City.
The announcement was made during an address at the recent Buffalo City Investment Conference in East London, an initiative of the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality in partnership with the Buffalo City Metropolitan Development Agency.
The conference was held under the theme 'Power Partnerships – Growing a Better City Together'.
The discussions and various site tours explored how to create a conducive environment for investment and outlined opportunities, including at the port, which are critical to the local and regional economy.
East London port manager Sharon Sijako said the port had a R3.3-billion asset base and covered 1.3-million square metres of land area. She added that it accommodated seven terminal operators and 11 commercial berths.
“The Port of East London remains a vibrant trade gateway that is involved in all sectors of the economy. The port is geared to support the city’s positioning as a manufacturing hub,” she said.
Key inbound commodities handled at the port include containerised automotive components, vehicles, liquid bulk fuel and dry bulk grains such as wheat and maize. Key outbound commodities include vehicles, containerised automotive components, processed foodstuffs and livestock.
Ship repair and cruise tourism also played an important part of the port’s service offering, Sijako noted.
Strategic port projects include work currently under way to refurbish the port’s dry dock, the reconstruction of Quay 3 and the Latimer’s Landing jetty replacement, while other medium- to long-term strategic projects include the port expansion and replacement of the Buffalo Bridge.
The Latimer’s Landing project will include strong city–port collaboration to bring about improved community access to this working port and to foster tourism and leisure development.
According to Sijako, there is a commitment from Transnet to advance infrastructure and capacity development at the Port of East London.
“We . . . have raised the case for expansion of our automotive terminal, maritime engineering and maritime commercial activities in the ship repair precinct,” she said, adding that the port and its management “are well aware that the potential to grow volumes and expand business at the port hinges on our ability to accommodate larger vessels through deepening and widening of the entrance channel with related berths and terminals”.