Rosmead station, in the Eastern Cape, was identified as strategic in improving operational capacity along the export corridor and forms part of Phase 1 of State-owned freight utility Transnet’s Port of Ngqura manganese export expansion project.
The Rosmead project started in May 2015 and is scheduled for completion in December this year, however, other facets of Phase 1 of Transnet’s Port of Ngqura export expansion project are still in progress.
Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) – a division of Transnet – plans to increase the capacity on its manganese corridor from Hotazel, in the Northern Cape, to Port Elizabeth, in the Eastern Cape, to 16-million tonnes yearly.
This project aims to increase manganese export capacity through the Port of Ngqura by upgrading and expanding the railway infrastructure along the manganese corridor to enable TFR to operate 208-wagon trains.
The project team consists of Transnet Group Capital (TGC) as the owner of the project and consulting company Hatch as the appointed engineering, procurement and construction management contractor.
The scope of work at the Rosmead station included about 3 km of civil and earthworks, plate laying, overhead electrification equipment, and the resignalling of the station.
“The unique aspect to the Rosmead project, which fell within the greater Phase 1 project, was that it consisted of a completely female Hatch management team,” Hatch enthuses.
This team included area project manager Lindiwe Ngwenya, engineering manager Ricki-Lee Meijers and construction manager Innocentia Mahlangu.
“With engineering being a predominantly male-dominated field, this is a rare occurrence and could not have been achieved without the support of the overall project managers from Hatch and TGC,” notes Ngwenya.
As this is a brownfield site, Ngwenya notes that the existing railway and infrastructure had to remain fully operational during the construction of the loop extension, which required meticulous stage-works planning and execution.
“The pressure to remain fully operational,” Ngwenya adds, “also means that all planning is aimed at minimising occupation requirements, which necessitates close inter‐contractor planning and coordination.”
“Stage planning meetings are held to address the complexities, due to ongoing train operations, which secured the formal buy‐in of the client’s operating division,” Meijers elaborates.
Further, the line also passes through an adjacent community, making external stakeholder management a priority.
“The Rosmead project team has demonstrated and exhibited an outstanding record of excellence in construction management in a complex, remote site, with the contractors being on schedule and within budget,” Ngwenya comments.
She further notes that “excellent” stakeholder management was maintained in a diverse environment, ensuring good working relationships with the remote rural community of Rosmead.
The project employed about 150 local labourers, with community development initiatives having been completed at two local schools. Ngwenya notes that this is in line with the project’s corporate social investment goals.
Equitable employment of community members, in terms of Transnet’s development goals as a State-owned company, resulted in the project employing a dedicated community liaison officer (CLO).
“Some communities protest and disrupt project operations on site if they are not involved,” Ngwenya explains, noting that CLOs assist in investigating the skills of community members and, therefore, employment opportunities on projects.
Stakeholder management, however, is implemented through frequent meetings to address any issues and concerns quickly to increase trust and rapport among Hatch, TGC, the contractors and the community.
“This is key in the project’s success, which impacts on Transnet’s social licence in the area,” Mahlangu notes.
The project, Hatch further enthuses, is especially remarkable considering the milestone of 350 000 lost-time injury- (LTI-) free hours celebrated in December 2016.
“All works for this project area have been executed with zero LTI after a year-and-a-half,” Mahlangu concludes.