Port of Durban challenges

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Strengthening port security in South Africa and the Indian Ocean. How can this benefit critical infrastructure? 

The South African Government views the country’s ports and terminals as key engines for economic growth.  South Africa is situated on one of the busiest international sea routes‚ critical to international maritime transportation‚ and its geographical location presents a huge opportunity for investing in a diversified maritime market. Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) which is one of five operating divisions of SOE Transnet is responsible for the safe, effective, and economically efficient functioning of the national ports system, encompassing eight commercial seaports, which it manages in a ‘landlord’ capacity.  While this is the current organisational structure, the South African Government announced plans to address some of the Port operations problems, by creating a clear separation between the roles of the infrastructure owner, which is the Transnet National Ports Authority, and the terminal operator, which is Transnet Port Terminals. It is hoped that the functional and legal separation of these roles, which are currently operating divisions of the same company, will enable each to be fulfilled more independently and with greater efficiency. 

In the long term this could mean that revenues generated by the ports can be invested in port infrastructure, both for the replacement of old equipment and for the upgrading and expansion of ports. In addition, this will allow the ports authority to make its own investment decisions and will ensure that it treats all terminal operators fairly and equally in the interests of port users. Transnet will remain the sole shareholder of the subsidiary “to prevent any negative impact on the group’s balance sheet, and to ensure that the ports authority remains an important part of the Transnet group. This reform forms part of the South African Government’s Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan. The need for structural changes is evidenced in the World Bank report that was published in May 2021, which ranked the Ports of Cape Town, Ngqura, Gqeberha, and Durban as 4 of the 5 worst ports in the world in operational efficiency (including Durban at #351 out of 351 ports analysed). 

So how can port security help change these statistics and develop the port terminals in South Africa? 

As a direct result of ‘911’, SOLAS (the Safety of Lives at Sea Convention) Chapter 11 was amended to provide for the inclusion of an International Code for the Security of Ships and Port Facilities, known as the ISPS Code. South Africa agreed back in 2004 to implement the ISPS Code in order to keep in line with its international trading partners. 

Back in 2016, Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) introduced a state-of-the-art port security system valued at R843 million (over 53 million US dollars) to safeguard customer cargo, port users, as well as Transnet’s own port assets, staff and contractors. 

Richard Vallihu, Chief Executive at TNPA, said: “The National Ports Act 12 of 2005 and the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code of 2004 dictate that we as a port authority implement measures to assist in detecting security threats and take preventative measures against security incidents that may affect ships or port facilities used in international trade.” 

The CCTV system was integrated between all port sites and the head office to give a bird’s eye view of the port security environment. It comprised 2100 high definition cameras across the various sites – more than double the previous 864 – as well as long range cameras to monitor all port channel entrances and outer anchorages.  

To read the full article, check out our June issue here.

Media contact 

Rebecca Morpeth Spayne, 

Editor, Security Portfolio 

Tel: +44 (0) 1622 823 922

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