East London car terminal could double in capacity

Mar 10, 2003
Author: P&S

After a mere three years in operation the world class East London car terminal, operated by SA Port Operations (SAPO) has notched up another accolade – a NOSA 5 Star accreditation.

While this achievement in such a short time is laudable, the really big news is that a potential contract for the terminal’s major client, DaimlerChrysler, could mean turnover at the car terminal more than doubling as well as a substantial increase in containerisation at the port.

According to SA Port Operations CEO Tau Morwe the NOSA achievement after only three years in business is impressive in industry terms, with the terminal also achieving the reputation of being among the best in the world.

“The car terminal is a unique, unprecedented facility that has been viewed and inspected by international and national players in the automotive industry. They have concluded that there is no other facility like it, especially due to its proximity to the DaimlerChrysler plant.”

He said that what makes it unique is that the facility is linked by a purpose-built bridge and road for the sole use of DaimlerChrysler SA, while the terminal is completely enclosed so all vehicles remain under cover.

“As far as we know there is no other fully-enclosed facility in the world.”

The car terminal was achieving one of the fastest times for moving imported units from the ships to their final point of rest. In the space of a few hours the units are received, sorted, inspected and dispatched.

“Essentially, imported vehicles are offloaded and dispatched to dealerships on the same day,” said Morwe.

Imports and exports through the terminal have increased by 29 % for the past year, providing the potential for future expansion.

There are plans to establish East London as the country’s automotive export hub, which will make full use of the terminal and other aspects of the port as well as kick-starting the region’s Industrial Development Zone (IDZ).

“Prior to the car terminal there was very little activity in the East London port, which as a result was loss-making. In the space of just three years it has become the jewel in our operations,” said Morwe.

With the support of DaimlerChrysler SA, the multi-level car terminal has proved itself with a current annual throughput of over 44,000 vehicles a year. Forecasts for the new financial year project this number to increase to 55,000 units.

Nozipho Damasane, SAPO’s GM for the Eastern Cape said the recent news that DaimlerChrysler has entered the international bid process to manufacture the new C-class Mercedes Benz was exceptionally exciting. “We have confidence that the facilities and service provided at the car terminal stand them in good stead in the bid.”

If successful, which will be known in October this year, the number of units produced would rise to 100 000 pa of which 75 000 could be for export, with the knock-on effect bringing a R10 billion boost to the region.

“The port’s potential is substantial and I am certain that it will continue to play a leading role in the future development of East London and surrounding region,” said Morwe.

The National Port Authority has plans to widen and deepen the East London port, which could come a step closer if DaimlerChrysler secures this contract.

n.b. A picture of the East London car terminal can be found on the South African Ports : East London section of Ports & Ships.

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