Transnet’s ports tug at triple challenges
Are tugging at triple challenge
The Radical Port Reform programme has radical economic transformation as its goal
Transnet's Radical Port Reform programme has radical economic transformation as its goal.As part of the Oceans Economy Phakisa, Transnet has several initiatives under way. One of these is a programme for the local construction of tug boats.
The Transnet National Port Authority (TNPA) launched the Umbilo tug at an official ceremony held at Southern African Shipyards in Durban in May 2017. Umbilo will be based in the Port of Durban.
Umbilo is a product of the R1.4 billion tug-building contract that the TNPA awarded to Durban-based Southern African Shipyards. This is the largest contract ever awarded to a South African company for the production of harbour craft.
Umbilo is the sixth tug to roll off the South African Shipyards' production line in Durban. The seventh of the nine tugs on order is already under construction and will also be used in the Port of Durban.
Speaking at the launch, TNPA Chief Executive Richard Vallihu said a new tug is exactly what the Port of Durban needs. “Over the past few years, the Port of Durban has seen larger vessels calling. This has put a strain on our marine fleet. Currently, the port has a total of eight tugs of which four are old shuttle tugs with only 32-ton and 38-ton bollard pull power. As a result, the port has been deploying a five-tug operation to help guide vessels into port instead of the six-tug operation required to meet world standards,” said Vallihu.
He explained that having a new and a powerful tug in the port would ease pressure on the port's marine operations, speed up turnaround times and reduce the cost of doing business.
Each of the new tugs will be 31 metres long with a 70-ton bollard pull, which refers to a boat's towing power. They have the latest global technology such as Voith Schneider propulsion which makes them highly manoeuvrable.
The five other tugs have been delivered to the ports of Port Elizabeth, Saldanha and Richards Bay.
Training and skills development
Addressing unemployment is one of the reasons for building the tugs locally, says Vallihu.The TNPA tug pro-
curement project also complements the TNPA's Maritime School of Excellence skills development programme.
“It was essential to have well-trained people in place to support Transnet's major drive to ramp up infrastructure and efficiency at South Africa's ports. Transnet has set aside a record-breaking R7.7 billion for training over the next 10 years. This will allow us to continue with our skills development drive focusing on young South Africans, whom we are developing in various aspects of port and marine operations. These include the Tug Master who will one day operate this brand new fleet of tugs and marine engineers who will be tasked with ensuring that the plant within these tugs performs to optimal efficiency,” he said.
Vallihu said the Port Authority would contribute over R56 billion of capital expenditure under Transnet's rolling R300 billion-plus Market Demand Strategy (MDS) which is now in its fifth year.
The nine tugs are being built for the TNPA over threeand-a-half years, as part of a wider fleet replacement programme that also includes new dredging vessels and new marine aviation helicopters.
Creating tugs creates jobs
Chief Executive Officer of Southern African Shipyards Prasheen Maharaj said his company had created 500 direct and 3 500 indirect jobs through this project.
“We have also committed to ensuring that each tug has a minimum of 60 per cent locally manufactured components, while partnering with international companies on the remaining aspects that cannot be manufactured here, for example the engines and propulsion units,” he said.
Maharaj said the intention was to maximise local content and spread the benefits of the project to black suppliers, and women- and youth-owned businesses. “Ultimately South Africa will achieve a socioeconomic benefit of more than R800 million as a result of the Supplier Development Plan attached to the contract,” he said.
Vallihu said the acquisition of Umbilo and the next tug would be critical to the port's drive to retain its position as a maritime leader in Africa, especially as it continues to service bigger commercial vessels more frequently.
“By opening up the oceans economy and redistributing the value proposition that the ports offer to a wider range of role players and stakeholders, our ports are playing an incredibly important role in addressing the three scourges plaguing South Africa: unemployment, poverty and inequality. This is what we have begun to term as Radical Port Reform, and we are pursuing this as TNPA in various ways,” said Vallihu.
Modern ports in a digital age
Transnet is modernising ports, raising awareness of port careers and business opportunities, and working closely with various municipalities to create the Smart People's Port – a concept to make all port operations wireless, Vallhi said.
“Modernisation of our ports is another important aspect of Radical Port Reform. Here in the Port of Durban, for example, we already have numerous projects underway to widen, deepen and lengthen berths and improve other port infrastructure so that we can better cater to the needs of the global maritime industry, with its everincreasing size of visiting vessels.
“Which brings me to the reason that we are on the drive to modernise not just fixed structures, but also our equipment.The ports present a paradox: you essentially have the same space to work with, but you need to become more efficient to have greater throughput, create more jobs and have less congestion,” he said.
Durban Container Terminal to expand
The Durban Container Terminal (DCT) is the biggest and busiest in the southern hemisphere. It handles 64 per cent of the country's seaborne container traffic. Transnet is implementing an ambitious expansion project at the port and its container terminals, comprising several individual work packages, to increase the DCT's container handling capacity.
The main projects include expanding the DCT's Pier 1, which aims to increase the capacity of the terminal to 2.4 million 20 ft equivalent units (TEUs). This includes the Salisbury Island project, also known as the Pier 1 Phase 2 Infill project.The TNPA also plans to deepen berths 203 to 205 at the DCT, which could raise the capacity of Pier 2 from 2.4 million TEUs to 2.9 million.The berths will be deepened from 12.8 m to 16.5 m and lengthened from 914 m to
1 210 m to enable the DCT to handle three 350 m vessels simultaneously. Construction is expected to begin in 2017 and be completed in 2022.
The projects are expected to increase the DCT's capacity from 3.6 million TEUs to about 5.3 million. Container capacity is also being created at places, such as the Durban Ro-Ro and Maydon Wharf terminals, by acquiring new equipment, including mobile cranes and various infrastructure upgrades. Transnet is also proposing the phased development of the so-called Durban Dig-Out Port (DDOP) on the old Durban International Airport (DIA) site, among other projects.
Jobs to be created
The Maydon Wharf infrastructure upgrade has created 127 jobs, including general and semiskilled workers, safety officers and store people, as well as project managers. A skills development programme has trained 206 people in lifting and rigging, construction, project management and safety.The project forms part of Transnet's larger
R340 billion to R380 billion 10-year rolling market demand strategy.
ETHEKWINI Municipality Mayor Zandile Gumede said at the launch of Umbilo that the city is grateful to be involved. “The fact that the project has created employment opportunities for 3 500 people, and most of them are women and youth, makes us happy.
“The city takes pride in the empowerment of women. I just melted when I heard that the pilot for Umbilo is an African woman. This is what we are talking about when we [talk about] radical economic transformation and women's empowerment, “she said.
From left, Southern African Shipyards CEO Prasheen Maharaj, TNPA Chief Executive Richard Vallihu, eThekwini Mayor and Umbilo Lady Sponsor, Councillor Zandile Gumede, Durban Port Manager Moshe Motlohi and eThekwini City Manager Sipho Nzuza in front of the Port of
Durban’s new Umbilo tug before its launch.
Writer: Hlengiwe Ngobese Photographer: Motshari Mofokeng (Transnet National Ports Authority)
eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede admires a model of the Umbilo tug at the Port of Durban, with the full-size tug in the background.
The Durban Container Terminal is the biggest and busiest in the southern hemisphere, handling 64 per cent of
South Africa’s seaborne container traffic.