Transnet National Ports Authority’s Port of Mossel Bay has appointed a service provider to provide a detail design for refurbishment of the port’s 500-ton slipway and sideslip facility. The refurbished facility would cater primarily for fishing vessels.

The project is part of accelerated port investments that fall under the Marine Transport and Manufacturing (MTM) component of the South African government’s Operation Phakisa: Oceans Economy initiative, in which TNPA is a lead implementing agent. Operation Phakisa aims to unlock the potential of South Africa’s oceans economy by facilitating the growth of the local ship repair, ship building and oil and gas sectors.

Acting Port Manager at the Port of Mossel Bay, Vania Cloete, said the design by Lodemann Holdings was expected to be ready by June/July 2018.

“Thereafter TNPA will request capital funding for the execution stage of the facility. All Operation Phakisa projects nationally are expected to be operational by the end of 2019,” she said.

The Port of Mossel Bay’s slipway was constructed in the early 1930’s and comprises a concrete slipway with two side slips and lead in jetties. The operation still uses the original end haul action in which vessels are supported on a wooden cradle hauled up the inclined slipway on three rails and supported by stacked wooden blocks. Over the years the wooden elements have deteriorated.

A preliminary investigation was carried out during 2015/16 where the most feasible options were identified. The intention is to upgrade the facility to its original capacity while at the same time introducing more modern ways of operation. This will further reduce any safety risks to staff and service providers working at the facility.

The port’s slipway refurbishment is expected to create about 10 to 20 jobs during construction and 3 to 5 for operations. More accurate numbers will be available once the detail design of the facility has been completed.

TNPA has committed a budget of R2.1 billion nationally to maintain and refurbish existing ship repair facilities in the ports of Durban, East London, Port Elizabeth, Mossel Bay and Cape Town within the Operation Phakisa timeframe to 2019.

Of a total of 18 MTM Initiatives under Operation Phakisa, TNPA is directly associated with eight that emphasise infrastructure and operations, skills and capacity building as well as market growth to support ship repair, ship building and the oil and gas sector.

At the Ports of Saldanha, Richards Bay and East London, TNPA is embarking on greenfield projects with new facilities to be co-funded through partnerships with the private sector.