Connecting Africa’s Largest Inland Port

cargo-at-the-harbour.pngThe transport sector is a significant enabler for economic growth and social development, and in Gauteng we must promote continued and sustained investments by government and the private sector across the various modes of transport, namely, non-motorised transport, road, rail and aviation. At the heart of this is the City Deep terminal, the premier container depot in South Africa. This inland port is the largest in Africa and fifth-largest in the world.

Early this year, the Johannesburg Roads Agency announced that the City Deep Freight Hub will start a major overhaul revamp to ensure it meets up to its full potential as a commercial live-wire for Johannesburg and Gauteng. With around 70-80% of freight currently being transported via road networks, it is vital that we focus more on making sure that the infrastructure is advanced and will be able to sustain itself for the long-term. The National Development Plan recognizes that South Africa's economy is a transport-intensive economy. However, its advantages in terms of natural resources are irrelevant if you consider the high transport costs and poor freight transport infrastructure. Most of the bulk freight in the country is transported on the existing national roads, and to a much lesser extent, on Transnet's rail network.

A member of the mayoral committee for transport, Christine Walters, said the Johannesburg Roads Agency, in partnership with the provincial department of roads and transport, will cooperatively invest R122-million in massive infrastructure upgrades, new developments and enhanced expansions of the roads leading to the terminal. The construction is anticipated to start later in the financial year.

The investment is over and above the R900 million that state-owned logistics and rail entity Transnet will spend over the next few years on the freight terminal. "The Transnet upgrade will result in the upgrading of the inland container terminal to handle increased volumes of operations," she said.

It is hoped that these improvements will provide the opportunity to retain and to establish new light industrial development and office parks around these terminals. This will further create the opportunity for retailers to build and retain their distribution centres at the freight terminals from where final distribution will take place.

Valuable investment
The City Deep Freight Hub is a key forwarding and clearing hub of goods to the rest of Africa and is connected by major rail and road infrastructure links. However, these existing links have limited capacities. "This is an invaluable investment to ensure the largest container depot in the country runs optimally," says Walters. The road upgrades and expansions will increase the efficiency and cut the cost of containerized cargo moving in and out of the city by ensuring a better flow of freight traffic and linkages with national highways.

Connected roads infrastructure projects
Mpho Kau, the Johannesburg Roads Agency's Head for Infrastructure Development, says the roads upgrade programme will include several interrelated roads infrastructure projects along links leading to the terminal. Projects that are currently in the final stage of design are the widening of Rosherville Road and the Rosherville Road Bridge, the extension of Bonsmara Road and the development of the Cleveland Road Bridge. According to Kau investigations into the extension of Houer Street as well as the development of new links or ramps to the N17, which will ensure increased mobility to and from the terminal and freeway, are almost completed.

The projects are implemented in partnership with the South African National Roads Agency Limited.

The City Deep development is critical to achieve volume growth in the industry. The current work that is being done to improve the situation and to expand capacity cannot be done by government alone. Business must also contribute by building appropriate holding facilities for their vehicles and staff. It is only through the combined efforts that we as a country can achieve optimal use of the City Deep Terminal. The private sector must also show commitment by investing and ensuring long term sustainability in our freight infrastructure.

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