Transnet was set to outlay more money to buy an extra 170 hectares of land for the construction of a dig-out port, the parastatal said on Friday.
This land acquisition comes after Transnet took ownership of the old Durban International Airport site, which was 800ha in area, from Airports Company South Africa (Acsa), for R1.85 billion in 2012.
The new land and the old airport are situated in the south of Durban where the dig-out port will be situated, close to the existing Port of Durban.
The land acquisitions, planning, designing and environmental assessments were part of the early stages of the port expected to be completed by 2040.
Excluding the R1.85bn for the old airport site, Transnet has spent about R150 million on planning and on design work for the port.
The construction for the first phase of the port was expected to start in 2021 and be completed by 2025.
Marc Descoins, the programme director for the Durban dig-out port at Transnet, said on Friday that it had identified some of the land that it wanted to acquire.
“The key thing is the proposed port’s limits have been identified and we have identified the land within those limits that we need to acquire.
“We have also started the process of engaging with the property owners,” he added.
Descoins was not at liberty to say to whom the property belonged. However, he did expand on which boundaries would be affected.
Descoins said on the northern side, the land would be up to the uMlazi canal; inland or the western side would stretch up to the N2 freeway; while the southern side would go as far as the Prospecton suburb; and on the eastern side, the land would reach the Shell and BP South African Petroleum Refineries (Sapref).
The construction of the port is being driven by expected growth in cargo demand and the evolving needs of the shipping industry.
At present, the Durban container terminal handles about 2.7 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of cargo a year. This volume is expected to rise to about 10 million TEUs by 2040.
Transnet’s executive of planning and sustainability, Mark Gregg-Macdonald, said the economic benefits of the dig-out port were estimated at a R16.5bn per annum increase in growth domestic product.
He said during its construction phase, the port would create a total of about 64 000 indirect and direct jobs.
Transnet has received opposition from a number of community and environmental organisations, such as South Durban Community Environmental Alliance.
The alliance had said that the development would directly affect the people of southern Durban and the broader city, and that the social and environmental costs would be high.
Businesses surrounding the planned port, such as Toyota and Sapref, have welcomed the development.
“The reason why we are building this port is because were are running out of capacity at this point in time,” Gregg-Macdonald said.
He said Transnet had not pushed any buttons on investments at the moment, and was not sure of how much the total cost of the port would be.