New PE vessel repair slipway boosts local economy

11th July 2018 By: Schalk Burger - Creamer Media Senior Contributing Editor

New PE vessel repair slipway boosts local economy

The R200-million vessel repair facility built at the Port of Port Elizabeth in recent years, is starting to generate a return on investment, says the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA).

The facility was developed as a positive step towards a thriving vessel maintenance and marine engineering hub and is expected to boost the local economy in the long term.

“We have serviced more than 140 local and foreign fishing vessels since the completion of the facilities in April 2016. 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 t vessels from the docking bay,” says TNPA Port Elizabeth project manager Pieter-Ben van Rhijn.

The replacement of the 130-year-old 1 200 t lead-in jetties and the upgrade of the 40 t slipway started in November 2014 as part of Operation Phakisa, which focuses on unlocking the economic potential of South Africa’s oceans by stimulating economic growth and creating jobs.

The vessel repair facility project entailed upgrading the boat docking bay from where the boat hoist lifts vessels out of the water and positions them on a dry platform for maintenance work.

This required installation of new piles to support the platform deck and docking bay, as well as the construction of a new retaining wall and backfilling behind the retaining wall to reclaim the old 40 t slipway.

Further, a new concrete slab was built where vessels are placed for repair, while bollards and fenders were installed on the mooring side of the slipway.

The 90 t boat hoist is a first for TNPA, the authority says.

The lead-in jetties were demolished and rebuilt as the existing structure had been condemned due to excessive corrosion. This required new piles, a concrete deck and a down haul winch house.

The project to bring the slipway cradle back to 1 200 t is currently under way, the authority adds.

“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 boat maintenance slab was increased in size and can now accommodate a minimum of ten 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, the ports authority says.