R1.4bn tugboat project to boost SA ports

Updated on 22 August 2014

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An ambitious plan by the South African ports authority to get nine tugboats, including the world’s most powerful, over the next four years, has been unveiled. Fin24 reports that nine tugboats will be built in Durban for this project, creating between 600 and 3,000 job opportunities.

Except for the ninth vessel, all the tugs will be 31m long, and 11.5m wide and have almost double the pulling power of the tugs currently used in South Africa’s ports. Powerful and strongly built, a tugboat is a boat that manoeuvres vessels that either cannot move themselves or are in a crowded harbour or a narrow canal, by pushing or towing them.

The order from Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) will cost a little under R1.5bn, Prasheen Maharaj, the chief executive for Southern African Shipyards, said on Thursday. The tender for the project, which was ultimately awarded to SA Shipyards, was open to all bidders from anywhere, but TNPA had insisted the tugs be built in South Africa. According to Fin24, the first tug is expected to be launched in November 2015, and the last in the first quarter of 2018.

At an official ceremony where the first steel plate was cut for the tug T3013, TNPA chief executive Tau Morwe said South Africa’s shipping industry needed to think where it wanted to be in 20 to 30 years.

“We are afraid to invest. In our ports we are stuck 25 years ago,” Morwe said. Some 600 people would be employed directly by SA Shipyards to build the tugs. The contract was expected to provide a further 3,000 jobs created by contractors supplying SA Shipyards.

Morwe said the project should start further shipbuilding projects. The country’s various shipbuilders needed to start working together in a bid to secure bigger orders from abroad.

R1.4 tug building project for Durban [Fin24]

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