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East London Dry Dock Getting into Shipshape Condition

 Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) is executing two major projects representing an investment of R57.5 million at the Port of East London’s Princess Elizabeth Dry Dock to support the sustainability of the region’s ship repair and boat building sectors. 

“We have been hard at work advancing these critical projects through Transnet’s governance and procurement processes, and are now pleased to be at the stage of actual execution of our refurbishment of the dry dock’s caisson, just a few weeks after we completed refurbishment of the facility’s main shut-off valves,” said East London Port Manager, Sharon Sijako.

She said the dock would be out of commission for a period of seven weeks and TNPA has worked in close collaboration with the ship repair industry regarding the expected downtime from 14 October to 3 December. 

The 72-year old dry dock was opened officially by Her Royal Highness Princess Elizabeth on 3 March 1947. 

TNPA recently contracted local company H.R. Morgan (Pty) Ltd t/a Oilco Border Engineering to carry out the R10.6 million refurbishment of the dry dock’s main shut-off valves which flood and empty the dock of water. The refurbished valves were commissioned at the end of June and have already significantly reduced the time required to flood the dock and improved its operational efficiency. The valve refurbishment project created 29 jobs and Oilco promoted small business by subcontracting up to 70% of the contract value to Exempt Micro Enterprises (EMEs) and Qualifying Small Enterprises (QSEs).

Site works for the R47 million caisson repair project will commence in October and are expected to be completed by December 2019. Designs for the refurbishment are in progress and will be completed by end August. The caisson is a large steel gate structure that closes the dock off from the sea water allowing for the docking and repair of vessels inside the facility. Its proper functioning is essential, because the dry dock is an important revenue generating asset that stimulates local economic activity through ship repair.  

TNPA’s caisson refurbishment will rectify corrosion and leaks on the existing caisson, reducing potential safety and operational risks, decreasing electricity consumption and operating costs, and increasing overall operational efficiency at the facility. 

Durban based ship repair company, Southern African Shipyards, will carry out the design and main works supported by site supervision consultant, Lodemann Holdings. Southern African Shipyards is a Level 2 BBBEE company and will subcontract 30% of the contract value to EMEs, while Lodemann Holdings is a Level 1 contributor. 

Other work already completed at the East London dry dock has included the replacement of electrical switch gears, crane rails, capstans, compressors and the fire protection booster pump. 

TNPA is investing significantly to restore existing ship repair facilities with the intention of stimulating the repair sector and creating much needed jobs.