Phakisa projects unveiled

Deputy Minister in the Presidency for Planning Monitoring and Evaluation Buti Manamela enjoys being in the hot seat on the Mvezo, one of two new super-tugs at the PE harbour. Port of Ngqura manager Tandi Lebakeng, centre, and the master of the Mvezo, Paul Clark watch proceedings
Picture: Werner Hills

PE harbour shipshape for delivery of range of initiatives to boost the oceans economy

The Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) unveiled a fleet of Operation Phakisa projects yesterday to visiting Deputy Minister in the Presidency Buti Manamela, including an expanded aquaculture zone off the Port Elizabeth harbour’s north jetty.

Port manager Rajesh Dana said the new projects – aquaculture, maritime training, boat building and repairs, and commercial and “people’s port” operations including the launch of a waterfront in 2019 – highlighted the region’s readiness for Phakisa.

Launched by President Jacob Zuma in 2014, as a fast-results delivery programme, Phakisa had the potential to catalyse economic liberation, Dana said.

And the Eastern Cape, through its three commercial ports of Port Elizabeth, Ngqura and East London, was perfectly placed to drive this programme.

“We are ready to take the future into our own hands.”

Braving a howling Port Elizabeth wind, Manamela was shown the new aquaculture zone, which will extend 84ha off the harbour’s northern jetty and include the jetty itself for land-based operations. It will embrace the existing 20ha area already used by the Zwembesi oyster farm.

Different species and methodologies had been considered and the intention was to announce the list of successful applicants next month, Dana said.

“The aim is to improve food security, create jobs and introduce new capabilities.”

TNPA executive manager for capacity and the authority’s programme director for Phakisa, Ricky Bhikraj, said the aquaculture expansion project was a stand-alone TNPA initiative within port limits, building on the success of Zwembesi and projects al- ready in place around the Saldanha harbour.

It was not linked to the Department of Forestry and Fisheries’ controversial proposals for Algoa Bay – off Hobie Beach and be- tween St Croix and Bird islands within the proposed SANParks marine protected area – he said.

Manamela was also shown the two new tugs recently introduced to the Port Elizabeth harbour as part of a R1.4-billion project to build nine extra-powerful and manoeuvrable new tugs to manage the new generation of super tankers and container ships.

A troop of trainee skippers proudly welcomed him aboard the one vessel, Mvezo, named after the village where former president Nelson Mandela was born.

Cadet Zoleka Mxoli, 35, said she was from Uitenhage and had never imagined she would end up training to be the captain of an important vessel, ferrying the port captain back and forth through open sea.

“Our biggest challenge is the wind which can quickly change the conditions, so safety always comes first.”

Dana also showed off the new R180-million boat hoist which was brought in from Italy to service the Eastern Cape’s chokka industry.

Boats needing repairs are brought into a new purpose-built slipway where divers hook up chains beneath their hulls.

The huge crane is then manoeuvred into position by remote control to lift the boats out of the water.

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