BLPN’s position on the Planned Back of Port Development.


Durbanites are probably all aware of the major infrastructure development that is proposed for Durban and the Durban-Free State-Gauteng corridor.

Proposed developments:

  • The Dube Tradeport development.
  • A big low-cost housing, industrial and commercial development on the current cane fields at Umhlanga. The project is called Cornubia (
  • A major shopping centre development at Shongweni between the N3 and M13, bordering on Giba Gorge. (Report available at or Google Shongweni developments.)
  • The proposed expansion of berths 203 – 205 on Pier 2 in Durban harbour. This is the development of most immediate concern since it is due to start in 2013.

The quay wall on these 3 berths are currently not meeting required safety standards. Transnet sees the necessity of upgrading the quay wall as an opportunity to lengthen all 3 berths, widen the pier by 50m and deepen the channel and the turning basin to accommodate much bigger container vessels. Lot 10, which will be used for construction of caissons for the quay wall, storage of fuel and equipment and be general builder’s yard, is close (opposite) to the mangroves and Bayhead Natural Heritage site.

Current view of Pier 2
Proposed expansion of berths 203-205 on Pier 2

Of environmental concern is the central sandbank, the dredging that will happen to deepen the channel, the impact of the construction activities and the eventual increased freight handling, the sand winning at a site offshore for infill material and the dumping of dredging waste at a site offshore. A part of the central sandbank will be lost and the quay wall will be much closer to the sandbank. To compensate for the loss of the sandbank in the western corner it is proposed to infill and extend the sandbank on the long southern edge.

  • The proposed development called “Back of Port” which involves major rezoning and restructuring of Congella, Umbilo, Rossburgh, Clairwood, Jacobs and Mobeni into port related industrial and logistics zones and big road infrastructure development to handle the increased freight they plan to bring through Durban harbour. The developers propose to mitigate the development through various measures on the Amanzimnyama and Umhlatuzana canal and protecting the wetland at Clairwood Racecourse. To commence 2015/2016. ( click on Back of Port tab.)
  • The proposed development of a dig-out port at the site of the old Durban International Airport (DIA) to handle more container freight and cars. See diagram below. To commence 2015/2016.
The orange is containers, yellow for cars, green “environmental”.
  • The proposed development of rail and the road infrastructure from Durban along the N3 to Gauteng – see the map below. Some Bayhead road infrastructure already completed, more to commence 2014, new interchanges on N2 and at Stockville to commence 2015.

  • To be able to handle the super-ships of the future the Bay’s capacity will have to be expanded again as indicated in the plan below.

  • The role of  BirdLife and what you can do:

The Pier 2 development (d. above) is already in the final stages of the Environmental Impact Assessment, while developments e. and f. are in the public participation stage after which it needs to go to government and then the EIA will be done.

These are major developments with undeniable environmental impact. To quote from the Back of Port Framework Report (p41):

  • An initial assessment indicates that, excluding marine areas, there is in excess of
  • 650Ha of terrestrial and aquatic habitat that is threatened by strategic projects in
  • South Durban. … Habitat types include wetland, grassland and estuarine habitats.
  • This habitat is both important from a local perspective and is critical to several rare and endangered species.
  • Proposed port expansion and associated infrastructure projects will result in significant loss of these habitat areas. A rough estimate indicates that 300Ha or more is likely to be lost due to proposed port expansion alone.
  • Additional key areas are likely to come under threat from associated infrastructure such as the
    • proposed freight route. Meaningful replacement of such an important and extensive habitat area is not likely to be possible in close proximity to the area of impact. The scale of this loss will be greater than that associated with any previous development … The impact is likely to be extensive, irreplaceable and have national and possibly international significance.

BLPN needs to make its voice heard in all these developments, but we need help from our members.

If you have any specialist knowledge, for example, an engineering or economics background that can help us evaluate the motivations given for the developments or the alternatives proposed, or if you are willing to give your time to read through a report and summarize the major points, it would be of great value.

The need is urgent. We need to make informed comments and presentations to the relevant authorities.

In this matter you can make a difference to the eThekwini of the future and to the conservation of our beloved birds.

If you are willing to help, please contact Arnia van Vuuren on

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