Port Elizabeth is the fifth largest port in Southern Africa, based on tonnage handled, and the third largest in terms of revenue earned. Over the years the port has gained a sound reputation for service quality and flexibility, a view shared by many parties in the shipping fraternity.
Most of the cargo flowing through Port Elizabeth is generated in, or is destined for, the greater Algoa Bay area, reaching up to the Sundays River and Langkloof Valleys. This area is heavily industrialised and intensively farmed.
Traditionally, Port Elizabeth and nearby Uitenhage have been the centre of the South African motor industry. As a result the port imports large volumes of containerised components and raw materials for the industry. The bulk of exports comprise agricultural products: timber, wool, textiles, skins and hides in containers, as well as palletised citrus and deciduous fruit. Manganese ore, motor vehicle industry related products and steel are also exported. Port Elizabeth is equipped with VTS (Vessel Tracking Systems).
Description of Position
The port of Port Elizabeth is situated in Algoa bay on the south eastern coast of Africa, midway between the ports of Durban (384 nautical miles northeast) and Cape Town (423 nautical miles west). The port is bounded on the southward by a line drawn from Cape Recife, east (true) to a point in the Indian Ocean, distant 1,609 m and on the northward by a line drawn from the extreme point of the east bank of the Zwartkops River, east (true) distant 1,609 m. On the eastward side by a line drawn between these two points, and embraces the foreshore between high and low watermarks from Cape Recife Lighthouse to the aforesaid line at the east bank of the Zwartkops River, including that portion of the river which is on the seaward side of the bridge carrying the railway line to Alicedale, together with the jetties, port works and all port lands vested in the Government of the republic of South Africa.
After the opening of the port of Ngqura, Port Elizabeth will focus on general cargo such as automobiles, fruit and containers. Manganese ore and the tank farms will be relocated to the port of Ngqura.
West wind aids ships. In November the wind is often from the east. These strong winds make the sea rough and navigation in the port difficult. Strong winds may cause a delay to the docking and undocking of large vessels, however, this is only on exceptionally rare occasions.