Consulting firm SSI has partnered with European project management, engineering and consultancy services provider Royal HaskoningDHV to develop a blueprint for State-owned freight logistics group Transnet to privatise its Ngqura container port terminal operations.
SSI is part of the DHV group, which merged with Royal Haskoning in July to form Royal HaskoningDHV. Its headquarters are in Amersfoort, in the Netherlands.
In terms of the contract, which was awarded in June, SSI will serve as an adviser to the Transnet National Ports Authority.
“This is a major step for Transnet, as it has always kept the control of South Africa’s port terminals in-house. For South Africa to become more competitive, the entity has realised that privatisation is needed,” says SSI COO Francis Gibbons.
He adds that the Port of Ngqura will be the first to be privatised according to the blueprint. SSI will then assist Transnet in finding a suitable port operator and will enter into negotiations with the preferred operator on behalf of Transnet.
Once an operator has been appointed, SSI will ensure that the prospective operator complies with the tender conditions, says Gibbons.
Transnet plans to look at a similar model for the new port at the old Durban airport site.
Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality
Meanwhile, SSI has secured a contract with the Ekurhuleni metropolitan municipality to develop a comprehensive integrated transport plan in terms of the National Land Transport Act of 2009.
“This project will focus on public transport, training and capacity building relating to the compilation of the transportation information register.
“SSI has been appointed to develop this plan and assist the Ekurhuleni municipality with regard to the requirements of the National Land Transport Act, as well as the budgeting and prioritisation for the 2013 to 2017 period,” Gibbons explains.
The consultancy will also be responsible for the preparation of the geographical information systems database for the municipality.
“Once this project has been completed, transport across the municipality will be at a stage where it can be integrated.”
Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele stated, in 2010, that more than R14.5-billion would be spent on the development of integrated rapid public transport networks in South Africa over a three-year period.
More than R6-billion in funding was allocated to the development of the networks during the 2010/11 financial year, while a further R8.5-billion would likely be allocated in the two years after that.
“South Africa currently experiences so much pressure with regard to the integration of public transport, and government is committed to doing something about it, which is evident in the Ekurhuleni metropolitan municipality project,” says Gibbons.
Further, SSI is also involved in Phase 1 of the Johannesburg bus rapid transit (BRT) system.
The BRT focuses on improving and upgrading Johannesburg’s transport system. The entire Phase 1 comprises 122 km and 150 stations. SSI will be involved in Sections 8 and 15 of the project. Construction is anticipated to start early in 2014 and be completed by mid-2015.
Gibbons explains that Section 8 comprises nine BRT stations, is 8.5 km long, will start at Sandton’s Gautrain station and terminate at a convenient location in Alexandra.
Section 15 comprises eight stations, is 12 km long, will start in Parktown and will also terminate in Alexandra.
A 90-Year Anniversary
Meanwhile, Gibbons adds that SSI will be cele- brating its ninetieth anniversary this year.
To commemorate this, the consultancy is compiling a book titled Reflections.
“The book will be released in the near future and is aimed at the engineering sector. It will provide an overview of SSI’s history, its achievements, awards and growth,” says Gibbons.
SSI was founded in Johannesburg in 1922 and owes its name to its founding fathers – George Stewart, a specialist in water-cycle and municipal-services projects, and Frederick Scott, whose forté was transport and structural design.
“We have developed from a civil-focused company to a multidisciplinary company, providing a range of services – from the public to the private sector,” he adds.
SSI states it is known for its engineering experience across a variety of sectors and is increasingly involved in an advisory capacity when projects are first conceptualised.
“We will never give up our engineering role but are taking up advisory projects on a large scale as well,” says Gibbons.
The consultancy is also getting involved in downstream services, such as asset management, as well as the operation and maintenance of water and wastewater treatment plants.