The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) has given Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) the green light to build a long-awaited R1.4-billion floating dock at the Richards Bay port.
The floating dock facility, which will be located at the port’s Small Craft Harbour, forms part of the R4.4-billion capital investment plans announced by TNPA earlier this year.
Consent from the DEA followed a rigorous process that included a series of specialised studies, impact assessments and consultations with various environmental and industry stakeholders, including the South African Heritage Resources Agency, Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife, the DEA’s coastal pollution management division and local municipalities.
“Implementation of a floating dock has been in the pipeline for a number of years, gaining traction in 2016 when an expression of interest was issued. At the time, 23 interested parties attended the site briefing, while 11 submissions were received, from ship/rig repair players, consulting firms and entities interested in being service providers or sub-contractors to the potential sponsor.
“Respondents were favourable towards mobilising a floating dock provided that certain risks were addressed. TNPA will approach this project in two streams, namely the infrastructure development and a concession to a private sector operator to supply and operate a floating dock,” explained Richards Bay port manager Thami Sithole in a release on Wednesday.
He added that TNPA would support this initiative by undertaking the dredging, marine infrastructure and bulk landside infrastructure developments.
The project is expected to create about 1 000 direct and indirect jobs, with a current targeted operational date of April 2022.
Once complete, the facility will be capable of accommodating Capesize vessels. This will require upgrades to the existing quay and extensive deepening of the berth from its current 8.5 m to a planned 18 m depth.
The floating dock project represents Initiative 7 of Operation Phakisa, which is a government-driven programme aimed at unlocking the potential of South Africa’s ocean economy.
Of a total of 18 marine transport and manufacturing initiatives under Operation Phakisa, TNPA is directly associated with eight initiatives of which four involve infrastructure developments.
Other initiatives address operations, skills and capacity building as well as market growth.