The New Year started with a bump when Transnet National Ports Authority staff, management and emergency personnel were called in after a Chinese dredger began sinking at the Port of Ngqura on 1 January 2012.
Tau Morwe, CE of TNPA, said: “TNPA has put in place stringent policies to deal with crises such as that involving the dredger.
“We also have dedicated and skilled personnel who comprise the crisis team to handle such emergency situations.”
Salvage operator, Smit Amandla was appointed by the vessel owners. The salvage team conducted the salvage operation in a professional manner and it took them 14 days to pump out all hydrocarbon fuels and to seal off all compartments.
Refloatation commenced on 06 January and the dredger was eventually refloated on 22 January 2012.
The vessel has been moved away from site and is currently berthed at Multi-Purpose terminal and the salvage operation has been completed.
Preparations are also being made to transport the vessel back to China.
A floating boom is set up around the vessel to ensure zero oil contamination.
“During the entire incident, there was no risk to port operations and to ships entering or leaving the port.”
“Therefore, business has not been affected and there will be no impact on the economy of the Eastern Cape,” said Morwe.
The sinking of the dredger has not had an impact on the date of completion of the container terminal expansion project at Ngqura, scheduled for July 2012.
“A larger capacity dredger, a tug and another three barges are expected to leave China on 25 February 2012. These vessels are scheduled to arrive at the end of March and dredging will resume on 25 March 2012.”
With the 106m3 dredger and five barges, the expected completion date of mid-July is, therefore, realistic,” said Morwe
The Ngqura container terminal currently handles 800 000 containers (20 foot TEU) annually and is 800 m long. It is anticipated that after the expansion the container terminal with its 4 berths, will be able to accommodate 2 million TEU’s and will be 1 300m in length.