Plain sailing for harbour boat repair project

A R200m project to establish vessel repair facilities in the Port of Port Elizabeth is finally starting to show a return on investment a year after its completion.
Work on the new facilities, which were developed with the aim of eventually establishing the port as a thriving vessel maintenance and marine engineering hub, began in November 2014 and was concluded in June 2017.
Transnet National Port Authority project manager Pieter-Ben van Rhijn said the project had since shown a return on the authority’s investment.
“We have serviced more than 140 local and foreign fishing vessels since the completion of the [boat hoist] facilities in April 2016,” Van Rhijn said.
“This is in line with our expectations of the growing need among the fishing fraternity.
“The boat hoist is capable of lifting up to 90-ton vessels from the docking bay.”
Port manager Rajesh Dana said the facility has tripled its annual income since the project’s conclusion.
Work on the project was completed in phases, which included the upgrade of the boat docking bay from where the boat hoist lifts vessels.
There was also construction of a new concrete slab where vessels are placed for repair and the installation of other required infrastructure for repairs.
The lead-in jetties, which were 130 years old, were also demolished and rebuilt as the previous structures had been condemned due to corrosion.
“The jetties, which extend the life of the slipway, were constructed at a lower level to create much-needed additional berthing space and at the same time provide opportunities to perform wet repairs,” the port authority said.
“The boat maintenance slab was increased in size and can now accommodate a minimum of 10 vessels at a time depending on size, as opposed to the two vessels currently accommodated on the slipway.
“Efficiency and productivity has also improved drastically with less risk of damage.”
While the new lead-in jetties were completed and handed over for operational use in February 2017, work still continues on upgrades to the 40ton slipway.
These upgrades entail bringing the slipway cradle back to 1,200 tons.
“Currently, the slipway can only take vessels of up to 600 tons,” Dana said.
“The purpose of revamping the slipway cradle is to accommodate the dry docking of [port authority] tugs in the ports, [as] tugs are currently dry docked either in East London or other ports.
“[It will also] target the dry docking and repairs [of] foreign fishing vessels and visiting yachts, and – with the resurgence of inland waterway trade in Africa – the dry docking and repair of vessels used in rivers and waterways, in view of the lack of dry docking facilities.” Dana said the slipway upgrades were expected to be completed in the 2021/2022 financial year.
A total of 82 direct job opportunities were created as a result of the project...

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