Engineering professional services and consulting firm WSP/Parsons Brinckerhoff (WSP) was contracted by Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) under the TNPA Managing Contractor Framework Agreement to develop the 2014 National Port Plan (NPP). Development of this plan spans from June 1, 2012, to September 30, 2015.
WSP has also been contracted to conduct the yearly review of the NPP and is currently busy with this process for 2015.
According to WSP regional director Geoff Smith: “WSP’s role in doing this work is, firstly, to assess the status quo of all the ports in South Africa. We had to visit all the ports, inspect what they are doing in terms of freight throughout, and see what was happening in the port in terms of nonfreight services, such as bunkering of vessel fuel, fishing and recreation. This helped us to attain an overall assessment of the role of each port.”
While the NPP is officially conducted every five years, there are yearly updates, which makes the NPP a dynamic document. Smith explains that the original plan is reviewed each year to assess what changes have occurred in terms of the freight capacity needed in each port and how the plan needs to change in the interim as a result.
He tells Engineering News that, once the status quo assessment is complete, an assessment is made of the capacity of the port to meet future cargo demand. This is achieved through Transnet’s freight demand model, from which the company has been able to provide 30-year forecasts of various freight types, including containers, dry bulk, break bulk, automotive and liquid bulk.
“This freight demand information enables WSP to do a capacity analysis to determine how many vessel berths (ship parking spaces) are going to be needed for the various commodity types coming into the ports. It also enables WSP to determine what will be required, in terms of backup quay areas, to run these operations and to facilitate exports and imports.”
Smith highlights the need to translate the necessary requirements of berth and quay areas for various commodities into an actual master plan as a key challenge faced by the company during capacity analysis.
He says it is important to note that, throughout this process, WSP has made use of its multidisciplinary team, which comprises specialists in transport, economics, port planning and coastal engineering; as well as environmental, sustainability, capacity planning, port logistics and land-use planning, port infrastructure, road service, rail transport, traffic and navigation specialists.
With the help of information garnered from these experts and the multidisciplinary teams, WSP drafts plans based on what is required in terms of each port’s berths and backup quay areas. It also provides options for port development.
“For each port we come up with several options and then we need to decide which option is the best. We do this using what we call a multicriteria analysis. “This involves a rating system, which compares the multidisciplinary input and decides on what we believe to be the best options and priorities for each port. Therefore, WSP keeps close interaction with the port throughout the process to ensure that they are happy with the plans going forward,” explains Smith.
He adds that each port has short-, medium- and long-term master plans, which outline how the port will potentially progress in the future.