Pretoria: Transnet has completed an R800 million upgrade of the City Deep Container Terminal in Johannesburg, the company said on Thursday.
This is as the company steps up the drive to move rail-friendly cargo off the roads.
According to Transnet, the investment doubled capacity to 400 000 Twenty Foot Equivalent Unit (TEUs) per annum, confirming City Deep's status as Africa's biggest inland port.
The upgrade at City Deep was intended to create a modern terminal that includes the replacement of all container-handling equipment with new state-of-the-art equipment, rail mounted gantries, reach stackers, container handlers and installation of the Navis terminal operating system, with the same platform as marine ports, among others.
Transnet acting Group Chief Executive Siyabonga Gama led the celebration, which was attended by hundreds of employees from the terminal, customers and suppliers.
Speaking at the launch, Gama applauded Freight Rail's Containers and Automotive Business for consistently wrestling market share from trucks.
"Over the last couple of years, we have been growing this business at levels several times higher than economic growth rates. As a result of these improvements, we can now offer our customers a vastly improved service - thanks to our reliable and efficient new equipment.
"Because of the additional stacking capacity, we are able to tailor-make and customise storage solutions for our big volume customers - especially fast-moving consumer goods," said Gama.
The terminal, which is operated by Transnet Freight Rail, handles about 60% of container volumes from the ports of Cape Town, Durban and Ngqura in and out of Gauteng.
The terminal also functions as an interchange for traffic destined for inland provinces and neighbouring countries.
At its peak, the terminal handles 300 trucks a day for imports and exports and loads and off-loads up to 10 trains a day between Durban and Johannesburg. The terminal operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
"Traffic management for trucks in and out of the terminal has improved significantly, reducing turnaround times for our customers. The terminal can now accommodate both 12 and 6-meter containers. This is a key requirement for our customers in our neighbouring countries. These need not be on the road anymore," he said.
Transnet's ambitious road-to-rail strategy is a key element of its Market Demand Strategy (MDS).
So far, Transnet has spent R108.9 billion in its rail, ports and pipelines infrastructure. This will improve to R125 billion by the end of the current financial year and can add a further R340 billion - R380 billion over the next 10 years.
All further investments on infrastructure are subject to validated demand. The additional investments will possibly take MDS spend to a record R500 billion.
The City Deep upgrade was executed by Transnet's specialist project management, engineering and infrastructure development unit, Transnet Capital Projects, within schedule and ahead of budget.
"Our commitment to moving cargo off our roads onto rail goes beyond Transnet. It is a key national imperative with immeasurable benefits for the environment and the economy, including cost, lower emissions and congestion on our roads and safety," said Gama.
The City Deep project is an integral part of the Presidential Infrastructure Co-ordinating Committee's SIP 2, aimed at unlocking the country's industrial development while boosting export capability.
The City Deep container terminal was established in 1977.
SOURCE: SOUTH AFRICAN OFFICAL NEWS