Transnet National Port Authority’s (TNPA) expansion programmes are not only ensuring that South Africa’s ports remain globally competitive and the maritime industry healthy, but that the sector contributes to job creation and empowerment.
Exciting projects underway include the building of nine powerful new tugs, infrastructure improvements at ports and digital initiatives that will culminate in the future introduction of Smart People’s Ports.
An immediate job spinner was the awarding by the TNPA of a R1.4 billion tug-building contract to Durban-based Southern African Shipyards (SAS). This is the largest contract ever awarded to a South African company for the building of harbour craft.
SAS chief executive Prasheen Maharaj said his company had created 500 direct and 3 500 indirect jobs through the project.
“We have also committed to ensuring that each tug has a minimum of 60 per cent locally manufactured components, while partnering with international companies on the remaining aspects that cannot be manufactured here, for example the engines and propulsion units,” he said.
Maharaj said the intention was to maximise local content and spread the benefits of the project to black suppliers, including women- and youth-owned businesses. “Ultimately, South Africa will achieve a socioeconomic benefit of more than R800-million as a result of the Supplier Development Plan attached to the contract,” he said.
TNPA Chief Executive Richard Vallihu agreed that the building of the fleet will help alleviate unemployment while complementing the skills development programme currently underway through TNPA’s Maritime School of Excellence.
“It is essential to have well-trained people in place to support Transnet’s major drive to ramp up infrastructure and efficiency at South Africa’s ports. Transnet has set aside a record-breaking R7.7-billion for training over the next 10 years.
“This will allow us to continue with our skills development drive, focusing on young South Africans who we are developing in various aspects of port and marine operations. These include the tug master who will one day operate the tug fleet and marine engineers who will be tasked with ensuring that the vessels perform to optimal efficiency,” he said.
The port authority will contribute more than R56-billion of capital expenditure under Transnet’s rolling R300-billion-plus strategy to modernise the country's rail ports and pipelines.
Vallihu said ports are catalyst for economic growth.
“By opening up the oceans economy and redistributing the value proposition that the ports offer to a wider range of role players and stakeholders, our ports are playing an incredibly important role in addressing the three scourges plaguing South Africa: unemployment, poverty and inequality.
“This is what we have begun to term as Radical Port Reform and we are pursuing this as TNPA in various ways.”