R108m port upgrade brings total Transnet investment to half-a-billion
TRANSNET recently completed a R108-million rehabilitation of sheet pile wharf situated adjacent to the dry dock at the Port of East London, therefore creating jobs for the local community.
Several major infrastructure and equipment projects at the Port of East London have seen Transnet pump a collective R542-million into South Africa’s only river port in the last few years.
The 83m wharf sits adjacent to the Princess Elizabeth Dry Dock and Latimer’s Landing. With multiple functions, including use as a ship repair facility and for berthing small craft, the wharf will support the port’s Operation Phakisa ambitions focusing on marine transport and manufacturing.
Acting port manager, Alvin Singama, said this was one of several projects aimed at refurbishing and modernising the port’s infrastructure to sustain existing business and cargo, while simultaneously positioning for future growth.
“The port is gearing up to further enhance its capacity with an expansion of its automotive facilities and the upgrade of maritime engineering offerings in line with Operation Phakisa,” Singama said. Construction contractor Haw & Inglis sourced labour and material locally in line with Transnet ’s supplier development requirements, while preliminary investigations, engineering design and site supervision were undertaken by the East London Aurecon office.
Other investments already completed at the port earlier this year, include the R176-million West Bank Foreshore protection project. This entailed the construction of a revetment to protect the port’s foreshore and rail infrastructure from erosion and damage caused by rough seas and wave action.
Operation Phakisa is a programme introduced by the South African government to unlock the economic potential of the country’s oceans. In East London it includes refurbishment of the dry dock at a total cost of R219-million to support ship repair and marine manufacturing.
“The total dry dock refurbishment project is expected to be completed in 2021, with new switchgear and crane rails already completed. The initiative to establish a boat-building cluster at the port has however been negatively impacted by the worldwide economic slowdown. Nevertheless, there is still potential to grow volumes and expand business in the port, which will have a positive socio-economic impact on the city,” Singama said.
The port’s tanker berth fire protection system is also being upgraded, while port security has seen an investment of R92-million to date, with further investments on surveillance equipment under way.
The port is also replacing its rail network and refurbishing the Buffalo Bridge.
Deepening and widening of the port’s entrance channel is still in pre-feasibility stage, with Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) exploring various designs and layouts based on modelling and completed simulations of vessel manoeuvring.
Feasibility studies for the Latimer’s Landing jetty project have been completed and are awaiting finalisation of approval by the Eastern Cape Heritage Resource Agency.
“We are proud to be making progress with several ongoing investments that demonstrate our commitment to the local business community, despite a challenging economic environment. The Port of East London continues to actively explore new markets to broaden its customer base and to diversify its cargo throughputs,” Singama said.
A report in the GO! & Express’ sister newspaper the Daily Dispatch last month, stated that the port was in line for an expansion of its automotive terminal, as well as maritime engineering and maritime commercial activities
Facing an expected demand in the automotive sector, the TNPA’s short-term plan will see 1000 additional parking bays being built by 2022.