Port of Ngqura

The Port of Ngqura is a deepwater port on the east coast (Indian Ocean) of South Africa, 20 km northeast of Port Elizabeth. It was authorised by an act of parliament in 2002, construction started in September 2002 and the port became operational in October 2009 when the MSC Catania became the first commercial ship to dock at the port.[1][2]

Port of Ngqura
CountrySouth Africa
LocationNelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality
Coordinates33°46′00″S 25°40′00″E
Opened2009 (commercially) 2012 (officially, by former President Jacob Zuma)
Operated byTransnet National Ports Authority
Owned byTransnet National Ports Authority
Type of harborArtificial
Available berths4 container berths at -16m Port Chart Datum, 2 general cargo berths at -16m Port Chart Datum and 1 general cargo berth at -18m Port Chart Datum
Annual container volume2.0 million TEU per anum (design capacity)
Port Chart Datum1.026m below South African Mean Sea Level


The Port of Ngqura is South Africa's newest port and the deepest container port in the country. It has an entrance channel -18 m Port Chart Datum in depth, a turning basin of 600 m in diameter and also at -18 m Port Chart Datum, 1 general cargo berth at -18 m Port Chart Datum, and 4 container berth and 2 general cargo berth at -16 m Port Chart Datum.

The Port Chart Datum at the Port of Ngqura is 1.026 m below the South African Mean Sea Level.

The biggest container vessels to have been handled at the port are MCS's 12,500 TEU vessels.

The Port of Ngqura complements the existing ports of South Africa (mainly the twin sister port, Port of Port Elizabeth) and the deepwater ports in Richards Bay and Saldanha.[3]

The first phase construction of the Port of Ngqura Greenfields project commenced in September 2002 and finally came to fruition with the achievement of one of the most important milestones when the first commercial vessel, the MSC Catania, berthed at the Port of Ngqura and off-loaded 275 containers on 4 October 2009.

The Port of Ngqura forms part of the Coega Industrial Development Zone, but falls under the jurisdiction of the Transnet National Ports Authority.

The main intended function of the Port of Ngqura is to service the industrial bulk commodity requirements of the regional and national hinterland. The port was also planned to serve as a container terminal that would relieve congestion in other ports and to serve as a transhipment hub serving primarily the African East and West coast traffic and also inter-line traffic from South America to Asia.

The Port of Ngqura is a deepwater port and the medium to long term expectations are that:

  • The port would attract new transhipment volumes under the container hub principle as well as handle an increasing number of Gauteng containers.
  • The port will also serve as a bulk port to handle commodities such as manganese, chemicals, oil and refined petroleum products.
  • Coega Industrial Development Zone generated cargoes be handled through the port (none of these potential cargoes have been finalized, but collectively indicate that the port would play a significant role as a bulk port serving the Coega Industrial Development Zone).

The Port of Ngqura is the only port in South Africa that has an environmental authorization (Record of Decision or RoD) for its construction and operation.

Two of the physical characteristics that had the most significant influence on the lay-out of the port, were the paleo-channel that runs through the site and Jahleel Island that is situated 1 km off-shore. The paleo channel provides the opportunity to provide a deepwater port without the need to dredge large quantities of consolidated material, which results in huge savings in capital dredging. The environmental sensitivity (birdlife / penguin population) of Jahleel Island restricted any development within 500 m of the island. The position of the main breakwater had to be such that the required exclusion zone around Jahleel Island was adhered to.

One of the coastal processes considered relevant during the design of the port was sediment transport. Littoral transport is being maintained through the installation of a sand bypass system that is the first of its kind in South Africa. The sand bypass has been designed to transport sand from the western to the eastern side of the port to ensure that the natural movement of sand is maintained that would prevent accretion and erosion on the western and eastern sides respectively.

eMendi Admin Building

A new port administration building was launched by the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) at the port on 23 June 2017. The five-storey, 10 000 m2 building was named eMendi in reference to the SS Mendi troop ship that sunk in the English Channel a hundred years before in 1917, carrying over 800 servicemen, the majority of whom were black South Africans. The name was unveiled by TNPA Chief Executive Richard Vallihu, Chief Operating Officer Phyllis Difeto and Ngqura Port Manager Tandi Lebakeng at an event attended by port employees. The building is a 4-star green rated building, incorporating into its design rainwater harvesting, solar panels and light motion sensors in certain areas. The building’s large window areas allow it to take advantage of the port’s panoramic views and natural lighting flowing into the building, thereby reducing the need for electrical lighting.[4] It represents an investment of R255 million into the economy of the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa.[5]

A lime kiln, dating back some 65 years is located outside the port side of the atrium and was declared a heritage site and protected against damage during construction. The building has a capacity for 205 staff, and is divided into east and west wings, separated by an atrium which extends the full height of the building and is serviced by two circular scenic lifts. A porte-cochère at the entrance welcomes both staff and visitors. In addition to offices, other facilities include a gymnasium, canteen, boardrooms, training rooms, a Port Operations Centre and staff rest areas. The building includes a basement comprising parking bays as well as storage and plant rooms. There is also an open parking area outside. [5]


The port is protected by two break waters. The western breakwater being 1.3 km in length and the eastern breakwater being 2.7 km in length. The breakwaters are of a rubble mound construction with dolosse serving as armour protection. The main breakwater (eastern breakwater) is the longest in South Africa to date.

The dolosse in use at the Port of Ngqura are 30 tons each and are the largest in the world (https://web.archive.org/web/20110807222323/http://educators.cup.co.za/?m=1&idkey=554). This dolos and the original dolosse have all been designed and developed in-house by Transnet National Ports Authority.

The crest of the breakwaters at the Port of Ngqura has been formed by 26,500 30-ton dolosse. Each of these two-storey tall monsters was carefully positioned using a marvellous combination of old and new technologies – the crane driver used a global positioning system (GPS) fitted to the end of his crane to exactly position each dolos according to the calculated coordinates of the model studies done for the port. (https://web.archive.org/web/20110807222323/http://educators.cup.co.za/?m=1&idkey=554)

The dolosse placed work by dissipating, rather than blocking, the energy of waves. Their design deflects most wave action energy to the side, making them more difficult to dislodge than objects of a similar weight presenting a flat surface. Though they are placed into position on top of each other by cranes, over time they tend to get further entangled as the waves shift them. Their design ensures that they form an interlocking but porous wall.

The breakwaters and dolosse were constructed and placed from September 2002 to February 2006.

The dolosse used at the Port of Ngqura are weighing 30 tons each. Approximately 26,500 units were placed. At 13 m3 each, that is approximately 344,500 m3 of concrete (or 826,800 tons of concrete). The dolosse were placed on the rubble mound breakwaters as a means of protection of the breakwaters.

A double layer of 30t dolosse units was placed along the exposed side of the breakwaters. To accommodate overtopping, a single layer of 30t dolosse units was placed along the leeward side of the main breakwater.

The construction of the eastern breakwater water was a 24-hour operation with rock being tipped at (during peak times) in the region of 250 trucks x 40 ton loads per 12-hour shift (a 40-ton truck load every 3 minutes). 800 ton crawler cranes mounted on portal crawlers were used to place the dolosse on the rubble mound breakwaters. To ensure accurate placing, the dolosse were placed using GPS position control. The portal crawlers were constructed high enough to allow the haul trucks access to the construction face where back tipping and skip placement of rock was carried out on a 24-hour cycle.

The Port of Ngqura is a technological world class port at the cutting edge of Coastal and Port Engineering development and technology. New technological advancements in port building during the building of the quays (built in the dry), building of the breakwaters, using 30 ton dolosse, implementation of the sand bypass system (one of only 3 in the world and unique in itself), etc. were developed and implemented at the Port of Ngqura.

The title of the biggest dolosse in the world is proof of Transnets technological advancements and proof that Transnet are the leader in dolos building.

Sand bypass

The Port of Ngqura is the first port in the world to have a fixed embedded jet pump sand bypass.[6]

The sand bypass is designed to mimic the natural long shore drift of sand along the coast of South Africa. This is achieved by pumping the sand from the updrift (west) section of the coast to the downdrift (east) section of the coast.

Sand is captured in a sand trap and the sand is pumped via pipelines to a discharge point on the opposite end of the port. Both capturing and discharge occurs in the wave zones.

Transnet is upgrading a rail corridor which will connect Ngqura with manganese mines around Hotazel in the Northern Cape. The corridor would be 1,003 km long, and would mostly involve upgrades of existing rail lines; capacity is expected to increase from 5·5 million tonnes / year to 16 mpta.[7]

See also


  1. Smit, Petronel (2009-12-11). "Deep-water port of Ngqura launched". Engineering News (Creamer Media). Retrieved 9 March 2010.
  2. "First ships dock at Port of Ngqura". SouthAfrica.info. 2009-10-13. Archived from the original on 2009-10-16. Retrieved 9 March 2010.
  3. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-09-24. Retrieved 2007-11-03.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. van Wyngaardt, Megan (2017-06-27). "TNPA unveils R255m admin building at Ngqura". Creamer Media's Engineering News. Retrieved 2017-07-22.
  5. myportelizabeth (2017-06-27). "eMendi Welcomed to Nqura". My Port Elizabeth. Retrieved 2017-07-22.
  6. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-09-25. Retrieved 2007-11-03.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. "Transnet to expand heavy haul operations". Railway Gazette International. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
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