New port engineer for East London

Aug 23, 2003
Author: P&S

Transformation and empowerment acquired additional meaning and purpose in the port of East London this month with the appointment by the National Ports Authority (NPA) of its first woman port engineer.

She is Sibongile Ngumbe, who grew up in the Eastern Cape and says she first realised she wanted to be an engineer during her matric year, when she learned of the great number of opportunities in this field.

What followed was a degree in civil engineering from the University of Natal in 1995, after which she joined Scott Wilson Consulting Engineers as a junior engineer from 1996 until 1998. She then joined Ninam Shand Consulting Engineers where she held the position of design engineer until January 2002.

The first years of her career involved work on water supply, housing and urban and rural development projects in KwaZulu Natal, with her exposure to coastal engineering coming in 2002 after she joined the NPA. “The NPA was a dynamic company on the verge of change,” she says, adding that working in the port engineering field allowed her to contribute towards developing the country’s port infrastructure.

Taking the hot seat at East London is nothing new as she has deputised as acting port engineer for some time ever since Vonk Claasens, the former port engineer at East London, was promoted to Johannesburg as chief engineer.

Ngumbe, who was enrolled in the NPA Woman in Engineering Programme, which aims at improving representation as well as developing women in the engineering discipline at SA’s seven ports, says she wants to see East London make its mark in the South African ports system.

“The port’s efficiency will make a big difference to the economy and will be instrumental in bringing about further development in the Eastern Cape,” she says.

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