Port of Durban

Coordinates: 29°52′24″S 31°01′28″E / 29.8732°S 31.0245°E / -29.8732; 31.0245
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Port of Durban
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Country South Africa
LocationDurban, KwaZulu-Natal
Coordinates29°52′24″S 31°01′28″E / 29.8732°S 31.0245°E / -29.8732; 31.0245
2022 World Bank Container Port Performance Index341st (out of 348)

The Port of Durban, commonly called Durban Harbour, is the largest and busiest shipping terminal in sub-Saharan Africa.[2] It handles up to 31.4 million tons of cargo each year.[3] It is the fourth largest container terminal in the Southern Hemisphere, handling approximately 4.5 million TEU in 2019.[4][5]

Port statistics[edit]

  • Durban is the busiest port in South Africa and generates more than 60% of revenue.
  • It is the second largest container port in Africa (after Port Said in Egypt).
  • It is the fourth largest container port in Southern Hemisphere. (First is Jakarta in Indonesia, second is Surabaya in Indonesia, third is Santos in Brazil).
  • The distance around the port is 21 kilometres (13 miles).
  • Rail tracks total 302 kilometres (188 miles).
  • The port has 58 berths which are operated by more than 20 terminal operators.
  • Over 4,500 commercial vessels call at the port each year.

The port has recently been widened. The harbor entrance depth is now 19 metres (62 ft) in the approach channel decreasing to 16 metres within the harbour. The navigation width is now 220 metres (720 ft).

The port saw a drop of "5 per cent of the liner shipping services, 6.2 per cent of ship calls and 2.8 per cent of the deployed capacity" during the second quarter of 2020 due to the adverse impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic.[6] However, the maximum capacity of container ships calling at the port increased by 14.5 percent during the same time period.[6]

The 2022 World Bank Container Port Performance Index ranked Durban 341st out of the 348 ports surveyed.[7]

Port facilities[edit]

Aerial view of the container port


  • Pier No. 1 Berth
  • Pier No. 2 Berth
  • Point and T-Jetty Berth
  • Cross Berth
  • Island View
  • Bluff Berth
  • Bayhead Berth
  • Maydon Wharf Berth

Car terminal[edit]

Durban Car Terminal opened in 1998, with a capacity of 60,000 vehicles a year. In 2004 a 100-million-Rand expansion brought the number of bays to 6,500. This included a 380m bridge linking the terminal to the quayside, improving vessel turnaround time and improving security.

Cruise terminal[edit]

MSC Cruises bases the MSC Musica in Durban from November to April every year. From the 2019/2020 Southern Africa cruise season MSC Cruises will be basing the newer MSC Orchestra in Durban.[8] Many other cruise ships pass through Durban every year, including some of the world's biggest, such as the RMS Queen Mary 2.

The tender to build the R215 million Durban Cruise Terminal was awarded to KwaZulu Cruise Terminal (Pty) Ltd which is 70% owned by MSC Cruises SA and 30% by Africa Armada Consortium. The terminal will be able to accommodate two cruise ships at any given time.[9]

Naval facilities[edit]

Naval Base Durban, situated on Salisbury Island, is part of the Port of Durban. Established during the Second World War, it was downgraded to a naval station in 2002. In 2012 a decision was made to renovate and expand the facilities back up to a full naval base to accommodate the South African Navy's offshore patrol flotilla.[10][11] In December 2015 it was redesignated a naval base. It is the home port of three Warrior-class interim offshore patrol vessels (formerly missile-armed fast attack craft) which will be replaced by a new patrol flotilla within four to five years.[12]

Expansion plans[edit]

In April 2021, South African officials revealed a $7 billion modernization and expansion plan of the port facilities in order to increase efficiency and improve its standing as one of Africa's best and biggest ports.[13] The program is expected expand port capacity from 2.9 million TEU to more than 11 million TEU by 2031.[13]

The plan has been criticized by labour unions over not being consulted on the construction contracts, and warned that the government's intention to partner with the private sector to complete the expansion could lead to job losses for a highly indebted state-owned company.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "UNLOCODE (ZA) - SOUTH AFRICA". service.unece.org. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
  2. ^ "Africa's ports: The bottleneck: New investment alone will not fix Africa's ports. Governments need to deal with pilfering officials, too". The Economist. 19 March 2016. Retrieved 19 March 2016.
  3. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-10-21. Retrieved 2013-10-14.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "Port Terminals 2019" (PDF). TransNet. 2019.
  5. ^ "halong bay cruise overnight". Retrieved 29 March 2023.
  6. ^ a b "COVID-19 and maritime transport: Impact and responses" (PDF). UNCTAD.
  7. ^ Bank, World. "The Container Port Performance Index 2022 : A Comparable Assessment of Performance Based on Vessel Time in Port". World Bank. Retrieved 2024-01-15.
  8. ^ "MSC Cruises to replace Musica with Orchestra for 2019/2020 South African cruise season -". cruise-arabia.com. 24 September 2018. Retrieved 2021-07-28.
  9. ^ Shirley le Guern (2017-05-30). "Preferred bidder for R215m Durban cruise terminal finally selected". engineeringnews.co.za. Retrieved 2017-06-29.
  10. ^ Engelbrecht, Leon (2012-02-27). "Navy may upgrade Naval Station Durban". defenceWeb. Retrieved 2015-12-10.
  11. ^ Helfrich, Kim (2013-09-23). "Naval Base Durban still a way off". defenceWeb. Retrieved 2015-12-10.
  12. ^ Helfrich, Kim (2015-12-09). "Minister says it's Naval Base Durban, not Station". defenceWeb. Retrieved 2015-12-09.
  13. ^ a b "South Africa Unveils Expansion Plan for Port of Durban". The Maritime Executive. Retrieved 2021-06-18.
  14. ^ "Unions express fear over R100bn Durban port expansion project". www.iol.co.za. Retrieved 2021-06-18.

External links[edit]