Coega costs escalate as port nears completion

Sep 1, 2005
Author: P&S

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The port of Ngqura, better known as Coega has escalated by approximately R900,000 to reach R4.1 Billion.

This was revealed during a media briefing at the new port, which is rapidly nearing completion about 20km from Port Elizabeth in Mandela Bay (formerly Algoa Bay). The new port is likely to see its first commercial ship during 2008.

Chris Matchett, resident engineer for the National Ports Authority (NPA) explained that the reason for the hike in costs was partly due to inflation but also because anchor tenants for the terminals have not so far been found.

Matchett said the intention when the port was designed was to build it along the lines of a PPP/BOOT venture – ‘public private partnership’ and ‘build, own, operate and transfer’, where private sector finance would be used to develop the terminals.

Up to today no anchor tenant has been secured with the result that all the financing has had to be provided by Transnet through the offices of the National Ports Authority (NPA). Also coming on board was SA Port Operations (SAPO), which will take over all terminal operations on completion of the construction phase. It had been anticipated that these terminals would be privately operated.

The cost of installing equipment and infrastructure at the respective terminals – a container terminal, dry bulk terminal and tanker terminal - will further escalate the cost of the new port. Added to that it is the likelihood that the container terminal will have to be extended quite soon by an additional two berths to make it really viable as a convenient transhipment hub port.

A number of shipping lines have signalled their preference for using a single port as a hub to drop off cargo while operating between the Far East and the East Coast of South America, with feeder vessels moving the transhipped cargo to final destinations.

About 90% of Phase 1 of the port of Ngqura is now complete. This includes the dredging of the new harbour and approaches as well as the construction of quays providing a total of five berths - two for container ships, two for dry bulker and one for tanker vessels.

Work has begun on a sand bypass system that will automatically transfer sea sand from the south western side of the breakwater onto north eastern beaches to accommodate littoral drift, which is predominantly in a north-easterly direction along the South African east coast.

Outstanding port facilities include a tug and small craft basin which will be situated near the base of the eastern breakwater, an entrance plaza and port control building.

The new port is expected to be equipped with two tractor tugs, although tenders for these have not yet been awarded. Also required is cargo handling equipment such as gantry cranes for the terminals, which is expected to go to tender shortly.

SAPO has yet to take a decision whether to use a straddle carrier type operation for the new container terminal, or go the route of rubber tyre gantries. From discussions with SAPO officials it doesn’t seem likely that the opportunity to fully automate container handling facilities will be taken, and Ngqura is unlikely to achieve the high efficiencies of other terminals using automated container fetching equipment.

Ngqura’s container terminal will have an initial capacity of 500,000 TEUs annually but future expansion including an additional two berths has been provided for.

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