The Port of East London has been host to several major infrastructure and equipment projects with Transnet pumping a collective R542 million into the country’s only river port in the last few years.
The latest project, which cost R108 million, set out to rehabilitate the 83 metre wharf adjacent to the Princess Elizabeth Dry Dock and Latimer’s Landing.
With multiple functions including use as a ship repair facility and for berthing small craft, the wharf will support the port’s Operation Phakisa ambitions focusing on marine transport and manufacturing.
Construction contractor Haw & Inglis sourced labour and material locally in line with Transnet’s supplier development requirements, while preliminary investigations, engineering design and site supervision were undertaken by the East London Aurecon office.
Acting Port Manager, Alvin Singama, said this was one of several projects aimed at refurbishing and modernising the port’s infrastructure to sustain existing business and cargo, while simultaneously positioning for future growth.
“The port is gearing up to further enhance its capacity with an expansion of its automotive facilities and the upgrade of maritime engineering offerings in line with Operation Phakisa,” said Singama.
Growing volumes and expanding business
In East London Operation Phakisa includes the refurbishment of the dry dock at a total cost of R219 million to support ship repair and marine manufacturing.
The total dry dock refurbishment project is expected to be completed in 2021, with new switchgear and crane rails already completed. The initiative to establish a boat building cluster at the port has however been negatively impacted by the worldwide economic slowdown.
“Nevertheless, there is still potential to grow volumes and expand business in the port, which will have a positive socio-economic impact on the city,” said Singama.
Other projects in the pipeline
Other investments already completed at the port earlier this year include the R176 million West Bank Foreshore protection project.
The port’s tanker berth fire protection system is also being upgraded, while port security has seen an investment of R92 million to date, with further investments on surveillance equipment underway.
The port is also replacing its rail network and refurbishing the Buffalo Bridge.
Deepening and widening of the port’s entrance channel is still in pre-feasibility stage, with TNPA exploring various designs and layouts based on modelling and completed simulations of vessel manoeuvring.
Feasibility studies for the Latimer’s Landing jetty project have been completed and are awaiting finalisation of approval by the Eastern Cape Heritage Resource Agency.
“We are proud to be making progress with several ongoing investments that demonstrate our commitment to the local business community, despite a challenging economic environment. The Port of East London continues to actively explore new markets to broaden its customer base and to diversify its cargo throughputs,” said Singama.