TNPA gets the go-ahead for construction of floating dock

The Port of Richards Bay.

The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) yesterday gave the green light for the construction of the long-awaited multi-million rand floating dock at the Port of Richards Bay.

This after a rigorous process by the DEA including a series of specialised studies, impact assessments and consultations with various environmental and industry stakeholders which confirmed an appetite for the floating dock in the region.

The R1.4-billion facility forms part of the R4.4-billion capital investment plans announced by the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) in 2017 and will be located at the Port of Richards Bay’s small craft harbour.

“Implementation of a floating dock has been in the pipeline for a number of years, gaining traction in 2016 when an expression of interest was issued,” said port manager Thami Sithole. “At the time, 23 interested parties attended the site briefing, while 11 submissions were received, including ship or rig repair players, consulting firms and entities interested in being service providers or sub-contractors to the potential sponsor.”

He noted that TNPA would be approaching the construction project in two streams, the first being the infrastructure development and the second a concession to a private sector operator to supply and operate the floating dock.

TNPA will undertake the dredging, marine infrastructure and bulk landside infrastructure developments. Additionally, upgrades will be made to the existing quay along with extensive deepening of the berth from its current 8.5 metres to a planned just under 18-metre depth.

According to Sithole, the project is expected to create approximately 1 000 direct and indirect jobs and has been assigned the targeted operational date of April 2022.

Once completed, the facility will be able to accommodate Capesize vessels.

Operation Phakisa programme director, Ricky Bhikraj, said that the floating dock would ensure that the Richards Bay port would be able to enter the ship repair market for typical vessels calling at the port and would grow a base for wider manufacturing capabilities.

“Across our ports, we are making steady progress on the upgrades at our ship repair facilities to ensure they are internationally competitive and capable of attracting more business to South Africa,” he added. “Having addressed the start-up and planning issues, it remains for us to accelerate delivery of these projects in consultation with port users.”

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