The Port of East London is at the mouth of the Buffalo River, on the east coast of South Africa between Durban and Port Elizabeth. East London is South Africa's only river port. At longitude 27º 55' E and latitude 33º 1' S, the general cargo port has good rail and road connections with the rest of the country and with southern and central Africa. The port serves as the gateway to the entire Border-Kei areas.
The port is of the highest international standard, but it is underutilised. With its well-developed infrastructure and active expansion programme, the port is one of the major vehicle import and export facilities in South Africa.
The Port of East London has been undergoing developments and Public Enterprises Minister Jeff Radebe recently announced that R12,4-million would be spent on dredging and deepening the west quay of the East London port.
According to South African Ports Operations, which is responsible for the management of various facilities in the port, East London's port has the following special and unique features:
- A multilevel car terminal. Boasting the highest standards of international best practice, the car terminal serves as a gateway for southern Africa and global markets. A unique facility, it can safely store 2 800 vehicles. It has a throughput capacity of 50 000 units a year (dwell time of 14 days). The complex includes an 8 300 square metre ground floor area for the containerisation of vehicles for export and an import and administration area of 12 200 square metre where vehicles can be inspected and cleared by customs. Vehicles handled in the terminal are provided with maximum safety and security.
- Twelve commercial berths and a repair quay.
- A combi terminal that provides handling facilities for containerised traffic and breakbulk cargo. Recent expansions at the container terminal have increased capacity.
- The largest grain silo on the South African coast, through which grain, primarily maize, is exported. The grain elevator is designed to handle free-flowing grain products. Cargo, mainly maize, is handled through the conveyor belt system and loading spouts at a rate of 1 600 tons an hour. The terminal has a storage capacity of 76 000 tons of free-flowing grain products and an intake capacity of 600 tons an hour via three belts.
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Click here for the South African Port Operations
Click here to read more about the Port of East London
Electricity and water
Electricity costs in the Eastern Cape are the second cheapest in the world. All factories in this area are supplied with 3-phase electricity at 220/380 volts.
Water quality is very high and can generally be drunk from taps and used without further treatment.
The area has abundant capacity to accommodate further industrial expansion and cheap industrial land is available.
Air, road and rail
East London Airport
runs flights between East London and Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town International Airports. Domestic flights include transfers to Port Elizabeth, Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg. The airport is 15km outside East London.
The road network serving the area is well maintained. The coastal national N2 road starts in Cape Town, travels along the coast through Buffalo City and ends in Durban. The N6 makes its way through the Eastern Cape interior, stretching from East London to Bloemfontein. The so-called Kei Cuttings, which lead to the Transkei and Wild Coast, have recently been upgraded.
Continued economic growth in the area has led to the growth of the railway system, evident from the rehabilitation of the Umtata railway line. The East London-Gauteng rail link still demands that freight trains switch between diesel and electrified locomotion four times in one trip. However, the government has said it will be spending money on upgrading rail links and this will probably include electrifying the Gauteng-East London link.