Durban priciest port - global study

2010-10-19 08:20

Cape Town - Durban is the most expensive among 12 international ports researched by the Ports Regulator to compare costs and performance measures.

The study was made at a time when the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) was applying for an 11.91% tariff increase for the 2011/12 financial year.

Total marine and infrastructure costs for an average container vessel to visit the Durban port once a month amount to $182 151.30, compared with an average of $86 251.58 at the other 11 ports.

After Durban, the second and third most expensive ports are in America – Long Beach in California charging $175 230.48 and Los Angeles charging $164 431.77.

The cheapest two ports are Kaohsiung in Taiwan, with a total fee of $18 609.65 per tanker per visit, and Antwerp with $25 605.46.

If cargo tariffs are excluded, Rotterdam is the most expensive port, costing $40 176.97, followed by Durban with $27 933.50.

For a coal freighter transporting 145 000 tons of coal, the study indicates that Richards Bay is the third most expensive of 11 coal ports, with total marine and infrastructure costs of $162 274 per visit to port.

The average cost among the 11 ports is $110 605, and the two most expensive coal ports after Richards Bay are Hedland in Australia and New York in America. 

Highest cost, lowest productivity

Although Durban has the highest port costs, its productivity is, according to 2008 figures, 23 container shifts per hour – the lowest among six ports whose container-crane productivity was compared.

In contrast, in 2008 Antwerp in Belgium achieved 94 container shifts an hour, although its cost per container vessel was $25 605.

According to Transnet productivity has since improved. Acting chief executive Chris Wells last week told parliament that the Pier 1 container wharf in Durban is currently managing 30 container shifts per hour, compared with 21 a year ago.

Container shifts at Cape Town and Ngqura are between 25 and 26 an hour.

The research is available for public comment on the Ports Regulator’s website.

According to its application to the regulator, TNPA hopes to earn R7.641bn from tariffs in the coming financial year. This includes a capital return of R2.768bn, depreciation costs of R937m, operating expenses of R2.859bn and a tax expense of R1.077bn.

Public hearings on the tariff application will be held from October 30 to November 4 in Mossel Bay, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Durban and Sandton, and other venues.

- Sake24

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  • rene - 2010-10-19 08:39

    It shows once again, We have the most expensive labourforce in the world if you take our productivity into account. We demand we demand we demand, but we are actually quite useless !!

  • JR - 2010-10-19 08:47

    Way to go Transnet - Highest cost and lowest productivity. Indicative of the broader SA though isnt it?

  • Importer - 2010-10-19 08:56

    How do they then justify th 2011 increas they are asking?

  • sandza - 2010-10-19 09:02

    And who pays for all these costs? Is it the Shipliners or the Port City?

  • robbie - 2010-10-19 09:17

    Add to that inefficiency, low productivity etc.etc. Another great SA World best

  • Bullet - 2010-10-19 09:19

    Then again productivity is low and cost are skyhigh. I wonder how many anc guys there are with a finger in this pie. How big is their cut???

  • Exporter/Importer - 2010-10-19 09:54

    The port works on the mantra of: 'The faster you work, the more you have to work' - they are thinking why move 94 containers per hour if you only have to move 23 containers per hour. The service and condition of dealing with Durban port is crazy, we export product from there and it is always a case of port congestion, which shipping lines charge a congestion fee to shippers. This impacts returns to suppliers and at the end of the day salaries to workers - it is a chain effect. Reduce cost (tariffs) and improve productivity (congestion) is what Cosatu and the ANC should be pushing for, this will help increase jobs.

  • Tollie - 2010-10-19 09:59

    This is out of 12 ports people. There are thousands of ports in the world. Carp journalism.

  • Johnathan - 2010-10-19 10:13

    The headline is very misleading. They researched 12 ports, not all the ports in the world. That would be like me saying that the Toyota Corolla is the most expensive car IN THE WORLD, after comparing it only to 11 other cars.

  • AJ - 2010-10-19 10:21

    So to sum it up South Africa is way too expensive and productivity is way to low. You can substitute the harbours with any industry by the way. this country seems determined to learn it's lessons the hard way. If I was the governments of Mozambique, Namibia etc I would be suing SA's mistakes to my advantage.

  • Vickerman - 2010-10-19 10:24

    A wonderful example of how to bugger up something that was working well, and then charge even more because we need to fix it, which never actually happens. Scary thing is, our wekkers probably believe that shifting 1/3 of the number of containers an hour compared to other ports is actually good going, and that they should actually receive tremendous increases and housing subsidies because of their phenomonal achievements...

  • Proudly SA - 2010-10-19 10:43

    Once again, a SA is a shining example of how not to do things, overpaid masses that are useless. At the end of the days you are paying for them to sit and be useless but demand huge salries. Have you see all the useless workers doing the new toll roads around JHB, never see any working, always sitting around be useless, but they had the cheek to go on strike last year demanding, roads should have been finished in Jan, but once again we will have to pay huge toll fees to pay the lazy B@stards.

  • Benzo - 2010-10-19 10:47

    ships, like trucks and planes, make money when they move. Thus..loading and unloading need to happen at lightning speed. Rotterdam might be expensive/ton but the turnaround seems good enough for it to attract volumes that make it the biggest port. Some 10 years ago, I was told that Portnet makes the bulk of its money from charges for "being in port". Cargo handling, done by Portnet employees, was a loss making business (at the time). In so doing, the interests of shippers and port authorities are not aligned if not opposed to each other.

  • The Monk - 2010-10-19 11:00

    Over the last 20-30 years, we have created a culture of laziness in SA. Our workers don't want to work, but constantly want more benefits, increases, etc. If anything, the Zimbabweans have show our workers what it means to really work.

  • Solo - 2010-10-19 11:00

    Ofcourse we the most expensive. Look at the idiots who run portnet/transnet. And you just know all the recent upgrades were done by corrupt BEE contractors. Someone has to pay the price of blowing the project budgets... and thats me and you...the south african consumer. All these costs are just passed onto us!! Makes me so angry

  • GRAHAM - 2010-10-19 11:33

    Durbs has become hugely expensive. To give you some idea, I have regularly shipped goods from Durbs to the UK. My product does not weigh a lot. It is more volume. Recently I have taken to using ems via air. The costs are comparible and I get my goods in 2 / 3 days as opposed to +4 weeks.

  • Johnathan - 2010-10-19 12:02

    Kudos for changing the heading of the article. A "global study" does still sound like it might refer to "all the ports in the world", but at least it doesn't state it explicitly anymore.

  • dale - 2010-10-19 12:12

    Regardless of all the fact less moaning. The report fails to state that Durban is the busiest and largest capacity port in the southern hemisphere.

  • Clive - 2010-10-19 12:45

    Wow ~so many experts. But not enough facts. 1. Don't blame the workers for the low number of containers moved. Blame management. The problem is long term under investment in infrastructure and as a consequence there is congestion moving containers out of the port. 2.Who pays ~ mostly the customer these costs are levied against the goods being shipped 3.

  • AJ @ dale - 2010-10-19 12:49

    That should then assist it in becoming one of the cheaper ports then not the most expensive.

  • workaholic - 2010-10-21 10:21

    transnet needs to spend more money on training the workers to be more productive than giving them huge average crane operator doesn't understand port economics and that means little does he care about optimising his houry productivity. until TRANSNET changes its ways WE AS THE SA MARITIME INDUSTRY will continue to lose potential business. we are the best in africa becuase there is no competition

  • Mike - 2010-10-26 01:44

    Hello. I am with the Port of Los Angeles and I would like to understand how Francois arrived at these figures. What are the components to the costs outlined? Can Francois please contact me at so I can discuss this with him? Thank you

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