One major development in the maritime industry has been the consistent growth of container vessel size over the past 40 years. The rationale being underpinned by the need to generate cost savings for carriers and decrease maritime transport costs. Whilst vessel size has been increasing on a yearly basis, there has however been a mismatch between port capacity and the growth of container vessels calling at ports. In order to respond to this problem best, the paper employed a qualitative study design in nature, and was complemented by a case study method. The method supported the paper in terms of assessing three ports from China that have developed capacity to handle mega vessels. The ultimate aim of this assessment was to use the theoretical framework of China ports as a basis for the development of a conceptual framework for Durban port. The paper concluded by empirically affirming that reforms that were undertaken at China ports in a form of governance and operational systems have the potential to increase productivity and create adaptive capacity for Durban port to attract mega vessels. It further presented that the conceptual framework, should be responsive to the current realities of Durban port and its geographical location, especially since the port serves as a gateway to the Southern African region.
Papers presented at the 36th Southern African Transport Conference, CSIR International Convention Centre, Pretoria, South Africa on 10-13 July 2017.