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TNPA to boost dredging skills through launch of R30m simulator

Transnet group human resources officer Nonkululeko Sishi

TNPA CEO Richard Vallihu

Photo by Duane Daws

5th September 2016

By: Shirley le Guern

Creamer Media Correspondent

  

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Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) has launched Africa’s first dredging simulator – a computerised training cockpit for aspirant dredger operators – in Durban. 

The dredging simulator is located at Durban’s Maritime School of Excellence (MSoE) and will form the core of the school’s newly launched Dredging School, which is one of only four worldwide.

The R30-million dredging simulator is expected to lead the continent in providing state-of-the-art dredging training facilities for the maritime industry throughout Africa, TNPA group chief human resources officer Nonkululeko Sishi said at the launch event on Friday.

She said the dredging simulator training would contribute towards reducing dependency on importing skills, training and knowledge, as well as pressure on other training and development resources.

“Dredging is the unsung hero of every successful port. Now, instead of sending staff overseas for dredging training, we can do this locally through the dredging school.  A number of regional ports are ramping up plans to expand port capacity, including major dredging projects, so we will be able to supply the human capacity for that,” said TNPA CEO Richard Vallihu.

Sishi pointed out that Africa was experiencing a significant increase in trade with growing volumes of cargo at all African ports.

“An expected surge is forcing port authorities and operators to increase capacity, analyse operations to increase efficiency and employ measures to allow bigger ships into their ports. With port development in Africa projected to grow strongly, new projects are being announced creating exceptional maritime business opportunities ... The reconfiguring of port layout, increasing berths at existing ports and conducting dredging more often, have been strategies that numerous ports have employed to meet this need,” she added.

She noted that the Port of Maputo would undertake dredging to increase its channel depth from 11 m to 14 m this year to allow larger vessels entry. Tanzania would invest $523-million on new berths to more than double its container capacity at Dar es Salaam port. 

She said the high-tech and capital-intensive equipment used within the complex working process of the dredging industry demanded that staff have a sound knowledge of the equipment they operate.

“The effect of training can be enormous because training helps to improve the effectiveness of the way equipment is being operated. The return on investment of a training programme is huge in terms of economic and skills development.” 

The dredging simulator was supplied as a contract offset by Royal IHC, a Netherlands-based maritime service provider in the offshore, dredging and mining industries. Royal IHC has been providing dredgers and related equipment to the TNPA as part of Transnet’s R2-billion fleet upgrade since 1981. 

The simulator is only one part of the developmental investment by the Dutch company. They will also provide the knowledge transfer and skills training.

Sishi added that, over a three year period, 50 students would graduate from the dredging school, which would be launched in January. These graduates would be able to find a job in the dredging industry in South Africa, within TNPA or with international dredging companies worldwide.

“We are recruiting maths and science matriculants. We have an intake of six students for next year and their studies are fully sponsored. The training incorporates about a year of study and is intended to produce pipe operators, dredge masters and dredging managers, marine hydrography surveyors, master engineers and naval architects,” said MSoE executive head Herschel Maasdorp.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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