In South and Southern Africa many of Concor’s projects are undertaken in partnership with Hochtief, particularly where these projects are very large and involve the application of unusual technical expertise and experience. “Certain projects involve construction methods and technologies that are rarely implemented in South Africa, but which are common in Europe or elsewhere, globally, where Hochtief is active,” says Concor project development director John Millward. A project of the scope required at Ngqura harbour has not been executed in South Africa since the early 1970s when Richards Bay was built and, therefore, would pose a significant challenge to the local construction industry acting in isolation of the international skills brought by Hochtief.
Apart from the Ngqura harbour, Hochtief and Concor have worked together for many years on various projects for the Lesotho Highlands Water Project. One particular Lesotho project where Hochtief was able to apply its specialised skills was the construction of the Mohale tunnel. This 31-km long, 4,5-m-diameter, segmentally-lined, water transfer tunnel was constructed between the Mohale and Katse dams using two hard-rock tunnel-boring machines.
The two companies are actively pursuing other large projects in Southern Africa together. These include the proposed expansion of Durban harbour, a major underground project in Botswana, a large pumped-storage hydroelectric power scheme and several high-tech cable-stayed or balanced-cantilever-type bridges.
Concor’s relationship with Hochtief through these partnerships provides a transfer of skills to the local company, and also gives access to the extensive experience and financial capacity of this substantial international company. The close relationship stems from Hochtief’s significant shareholding in Concor. Partnerships of this nature enable local South African companies to compete in construction projects where the magnitude, technical complexity and execution risks would normally be too high.
The R1,5-billion Ngqura project symbolises the partnership between the two companies.
“Primary aspects of the construction works include bulk excavations under dry (dewatered) conditions to form the harbour inner basin; construction of land and sea reclamation areas; mass gravity concrete quay walls providing five shipping berths; harbour protection provided by two concrete-capped rubble-mound breakwaters; and five caisson units to be positioned at sea as terminal anchors for the breakwaters. “In addition, dolosse to provide the breakwaters’ primary armour protection had to be manufactured and a quarry developed to provide the enormous quantities of rockfill and concrete aggregate required,” explains Millward.
The Port of Ngqura, which forms part of the broader Coega industrial development zone, is expected to accommodate commercial shipping by October next year.