Dube Trade Port: Building a Legacy

In the brave new South Africa, enterprise has become a defining term. At the same time all businesses are acutely aware of the shortcomings in existing infrastructure and the impact this can have both on domestic trade and export. Against this backdrop, KwaZulu-Natal came up with an ingenious solution: Dube TradePort.

The development is a catalyst for global trade and a portal between KwaZulu-Natal and the world. It is the only facility in Africa combining an international airport, a cargo terminal, warehousing, offices, a retail sector, hotels, and an agricultural area.

Dube1Located 30 km north of Durban, Dube TradePort is positioned between the two biggest sea ports in Southern Africa, and linked to the rest of Africa by road and rail. It rightly proclaims itself to be “South Africa’s premier air logistics platform.”

Through meticulous planning and steady growth the enterprise offers exciting opportunities for the region’s economic prosperity as it has delivered greater capacity for the growth of bulk services through five strategic units: Dube AgriZone, Dube Cargo Terminal, Dube City, Dube iConnect which supplies the latest telecommunications to the area) and Dube TradeZone.

Dube TradePort came to fruition as a result of the Government’s decision to build a new international airport in the eastern port city of Durban ahead of the 2010 Fifa World Cup(TM) The government decided to invest at least $860m (R6bn) on investments in Durban in preparation for the event which included expenditure on the new King Shaka Airport.

Jeff Radebe, the South African Transport Minister had announced plans to launch a new airport at La Mercy, 30km north of Durban and the old Durban International Airport (DIA), which could not accommodate fully laden Boeing 747s, was decommissioned by the first quarter of 2010.

The concept of King Shaka International Airport can be traced back to the 1970s but it was in 2004 that the idea gained significant impetus with Radebe’s intervention, with construction eventually beginning in August 2007. The development saw 2,100 contractors and subcontractors on site along with 200 earth-moving machines involved in the construction of the airport.

The new airport, designed by Osmond Lange Architects and Planners, opened on 1 May 2010 and is named after the famous Zulu warrior king of the 19th Century. Studies on the former Durban international airport terminal proved that it was too small to handle the growing tourist and commercial trade through Durban, South Africa’s busiest port. Passengers at DIA had doubled since 2005 from two million to four million passengers a year.

Dube TradePort, was established by the province to manage the new industrial development zone and signed a memorandum of understanding with the national transport department and the provincial government in regards to the cargo terminal portion of the project.

ACSA worked on a plan to encourage international airlines to fly into the new airport, which has longer runways and more modern facilities. It has been integrated with the 35-acre Dube trade port and agricultural shipping zone that was developed at a nearby site.

The zone offers a cargo terminal, an integrated logistics platform, an agricultural export zone, manufacturing space, and opportunities for property development such as hotel, retail and conferencing space.

Dube Cargo Terminal has been designed and built to provide the modern cargo terminal in Africa. State-of-the-art ramp handling equipment ensures faster turnaround times for freighter aircraft and the terminal has the capacity to handle 100,000 tons per annum, with scope to expand further to 2 million tons by 2060.

The Cargo Terminal is directly linked to the airside and the TradeZone and its proximity to both freight forwarders and shippers (only 200 metres away) make it highly efficient. The terminal is SARS and CAA approved and comprises of 13,000 square metres of warehousing and advanced technology that incorporates ETV (elevated transfer vehicle) by ICM and has a fully mechanised and digitised inventory control system.

Dube TradeZone is situated just 2 km from the International Passenger Terminal and sits adjacent to the Cargo Terminal. The area houses freight-forwarding and air-cargo-related businesses including logistics, assembly, warehousing, light manufacturing and the handling of high-value cargo.

Dube2Dube AgriZone is a 20-hectare site that has been developed to give impetus to KwaZulu-Natal’s perishable goods sector. The AgriZone will serve as a centre of excellence and will embellish technology, production methods training and research. It boasts 15 hectares of greenhouses for the production of flowers and vegetables (including cherry tomatoes, specialty cucumbers and yellow and red sweet peppers) as well as a tissue culture lab, nursery and research centre.

The site has been designed to incorporate green technologies such as photovoltaic solar panels which have been installed on packhouses. Each of the greenhouse platforms has been built to harvest rainwater which is then stored in special closed surface storage ponds. Water is also supplied via boreholes giving the AgriZone complete control of greenhouse climates and consequently much better yields than conventional farming can achieve.

In addition the area has rehabilitated wetlands and has seen in excess of 13,000 indigenous plants and trees reintroduced.

The environmental aspects of Dube TradePort run much deeper than just the AgriZone however, and initiatives illustrate how operations are striving to make this project the first purpose-built aerotropolis and the first green city on the African Continent.

It is a green development that is a flagship for sustainable development in Africa and is currently running initiatives to minimise and mitigate greenhouse gases and synthetic pollutants, protect the ecosystem, run sustainable water and waste management systems, provide food security and boost the green economy.

Dube TradePort operates Euro 5 emission trucks which limit exhaust gases and emission of particles. Dube City is considered to be the first green city precinct on the Continent.

Situated only a kilometre from King Shaka Airport, Dube City is a bustling, cosmopolitan, 24-hour experience of industry, trade and retail, covering 12 hectares.

Looking beyond business the city has been designed with green initiatives in mind – and in particular the pedestrian. Aside from its open spaces the precinct includes tree-lined boulevards and dedicated cycle lanes, green roofs and renewable energy. The intention is to eventually move towards public transportation that is driven by bio-fuels rather than fossil fuels.

Maybe Dube TradePort has been built on a grand scale; undoubtedly it has been created to secure the long-term future of KwaZulu-Natal. The construction phase created new fewer than 58,972 jobs with over 34,000 of these in the eThekwini municipality. Job creation heralded the need for training and by the end of July 2009, R9 million had been spent on skills development during the construction of Dube TradePort.

It is estimated that R6 billion in household income has been generated across the country because of the construction of Dube TradePort, with 26.5 per cent going to low-income households throughout South Africa.

It is fair to say that Dube TradePort has not only dramatically changed the landscape physically; but economically too; creating a legacy for decades to come.