Ngqura Terminal Ship-Shape for October Launch

www.MyPE.co.za: With
just five months to go before its commercial launch, the new Ngqura
container terminal is a hive of activity, and Transnet Port Terminals’
Divisional Executive Manager for the Container Sector says all parties
are gearing up to ensure it brings value to the maritime industry.

“We are now obviously at a very critical stage in this project but have
every reason to be highly confident, as we move closer to the
experimental operations testing process planned for August
and September, followed by our October go-live date,” said
Siyabulela Mhlaluka.

Mhlaluka said the majority of the terminal’s infrastructure was in
place, final recruitment and training programmes had kicked into high
gear and customer engagement was now at an advanced stage. Transnet has
invested in excess of R10 billion to date to develop the facility as a
high-performance terminal.

“Our most significant progress – as far as world-class equipment is
concerned – includes the assembly and commissioning of twelve
rubber-tyred gantry cranes (RTGs) and four Megamax ship-to-shore cranes
to date. Two additional ship-to-shores scheduled for delivery in May or
June will complete the fleet of six such cranes, while the remainder of
the 22 RTGs will be delivered as the programme progresses further,” he
said.

The commissioned cranes are currently being used in the terminal’s
intensive Operators of Lifting Equipment (OLE) training programme,
which has produced 42 RTG operators and 18 ship-to-shore operators
since January.

The 60 operators are now nearing the end of their rigorous training
programme. This involves four weeks of classroom-based theoretical
education, one week of simulation training via Transnet Port Terminals’
mobile advanced crane simulator and finally 12 weeks of practical
application manoeuvring actual cranes and shipping containers.

Mhlaluka said the importance of adhering to rigid safety procedures had
been impressed upon operators from the commencement of their training,
along with the obvious technical skills, trouble-shooting and the
ability to operate equipment quickly and efficiently.

“We are now entering the next wave of recruitment and appointments will
continue to be made from within the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan
area (Port Elizabeth). Upcoming appointments will include around 33
driver articulated vehicle operators, as well as cargo controllers,
first line managers and supervisors, a SHEQ Manager, and support
services and administration staff. We already have our core operations
staff and 11 expert planners who will be responsible for vessel
planning, berth planning, rail planning, traffic control and
stack planning,” said Mhlaluka.

He said the terminal currently had in place a staff complement of just
over 80, of which more than 90% were appointments drawn from the local
region. This would be stepped up to 210 permanent employees by the time
the terminal opens in October.

Further equipment on order includes two rail-mounted gantry cranes
(RMGs) currently en route from Shanghai, China, which will arrive in
May or June of this year to serve the rail terminal and its
Johannesburg to Ngqura rail corridor.

Around half of the 1680 reefer plug points for refrigerated cargo were
ready to be electrified and Mhlaluka said this would be sufficient to
serve vessels in October. The balance of the reefer points would be
made available in stages. Non-critical equipment such as the six reach
stackers and empty container handlers are scheduled for arrival in June.

Mhlaluka
said the terminal would be implementing other high-tech
systems including the web-based Navis SPARCS N4 terminal operating
system, which Transnet recently introduced in a global first for port
operators, running it from a central server across multiple marine and
rail sites.  Ngqura container terminal would also boast a
fully automated gate system, similar to that introduced at Pier 1
container terminal in Durban last year.

Transnet has already taken beneficial occupation of the main building
cluster comprising mess and ablution facilities, which is due for
handover in June. The temporary services workshop, including offices
and mess rooms, has been occupied since January and would likely
continue to be used even once the main hauler zone workshop was handed
over in December of this year.

The 60 000 hectare Ngqura container terminal will open with a capacity
of 800 000 TEUs, but by its end state will boast a capacity of two
million TEUs. The Port of Ngqura will be the only port in South Africa
able to receive new generation vessels carrying between 8,000 and 9,000
TEUs with a draft of 16.5 metres.

Source: PERCCI.

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