With close to 60% of the work already completed on Transnet National Ports Authority’s R30 million caisson repair project at the 90-year old Prince Edward Graving Dry Dock in Durban, the project’s handover date has been brought forward by a month to 25 November.
Initially the four month project schedule entailed a two-month non-operational period in August and September 2015 followed by a partly operational period in October and November 2015.
However as previously communicated, the contractor was unable to take occupation of the dry dock, due to an unexpected delay on the repair of the hospital ship AFRICA MERCY, being carried out by private ship repair company, Dormac Marine and Engineering. The project therefore commenced on 20 August 2015.
Durban Port Manager, Moshe Motlohi, said: “This delayed start impacted on the erection of scaffolding and the appointed contractor’s occupation of the dock, which had a direct knock-on effect on critical path activities and threatened to push the completion date of the project to 24 December 2015. Due to the 21 working days that were lost at the start of the project it became apparent that the contractor’s methodology would need to be changed.
“We have tried to minimise any further impact on the ship repair industry by taking measures to bring the project completion date forward by a month, although the dock’s non-operational period has been extended from late October to also end on 25 November 2015,” he said.
TNPA has formally engaged with the South African Association of Ship Operators and Agents (SAASOA) and the South African Ship Builders and Repairers Association to keep them abreast of the adjusted timelines.
Motlohi added: “While the revised methodology presents the benefit of an earlier project completion, it also poses serious risks associated with docking a vessel whilst the project is in progress. Dry dock bookings will therefore only be accepted for dates after 25 November 2015.”
This is the third and final phase of a comprehensive repair programme on the dry dock’s outer caisson which was deemed unsafe and in need of repair. Work completed to date includes the refurbishment of certain sections of the 35 metre long, 900 ton steel caisson and the installation of other new sections.
Contractor Channel Construction is working alongside managing contractor, Sebata Group, which is overseeing the caisson repair project, with technical expertise and quality assurance provided by a team including KwaZulu-Natal’s only naval architecture firm, Naval Africa.
The contractor has resources working day and night shifts on site and at their workshop, with work continuing during weekends. Work includes demolition and waste disposal, structural repair, welding, modification and replacement of structural members and plates, design and fabrication certification, commissioning and final handover.
The outer caisson repair project is the first of 11 Operation Phakisa projects at the dry dock and forms part of TNPA’s large-scale repair programme for the facility. The authority has accelerated planned refurbishments of existing ship repair facilities at its ports in line with the South African government’s Operation Phakisa initiative which aims to unlock the economic potential of South Africa’s oceans. Under Transnet’s Market Demand Strategy, the plans are a key aspect of TNPA’s R35 billion-plus investments into port infrastructure, capacity and maintenance over seven years ending 2019.