New tug for Richards Bay

The tug Ukhozi revealed at the launch in Durban last week

A NEWLY built tug boat, named Ukhozi, is on its way to assist with smoother sailing at the Port of Richards Bay.

It is the first of four commissioned for KZN’s ports by the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) from a R1.4-billion tug building contract.

Two will serve in Richards Bay and the other two in Durban.

The project is 81% complete and still on track to deliver the final tug early next year.
Ukhozi, meaning eagle in iSiZulu, was ‘christened’ in Durban last Thursday in line with maritime tradition.

Speaking at the ceremony, TNPA Chief Executive Richard Vallihu said the drive to ramp up infrastructure is not only essential to ensure efficiency at the local port, but also creates job opportunities.

‘Transnet has set aside R7.7-billon for training over the next 10 years and the port authority will contribute in excess of R56-billion of capital expenditure under Transnet’s rolling R300-billion plus Market Demand Strategy, which is now in its fifth year.’

He noted the stories of three newly qualified Chief Marine Engineering Officers – Prince Zulu, Mlungisi Ngema and Ntuthuko Tshabalala – who were part of a group of engineers who had the opportunity of honing their practical skills on-site during the construction of the tugs.

‘The sheer scale of this construction and engineering project has equipped these promising marine engineers with the technical problem-solving insight that would be hard to come by elsewhere.

‘Prince Zulu, for example, is a young man from landlocked Nongoma.

‘He is a product of the Transnet Maritime School of Excellence and gained valuable work experience over 12 months during this contract.

‘He was able to observe and participate in the construction of at least two of the nine tugs.

‘This exposure has helped him remain abreast of cutting-edge technology and has enabled him to tackle the many challenges entailed in overseeing the mechanical operation of these complex pieces of machinery,’ said Vallihu.

He also praised the work of Southern African Shipyards, which he said was playing a proactive role in helping to unlock the potential of the ocean economy.

At the tug’s naming ceremony were TNPA representatives Nkosinathi Zuma (Port of Richards Bay Acting Marine Operations Manager), Captain Sabelo Mdlalose (Richards Bay Harbour Master), Preston Khomo (Richards Bay Port Manager), Sinamile Zuma (Port of Richards Bay Customer Relations Manager), Richard Vallihu (Chief Executive), Charl Pretorius (Port of Richards Bay Marine Technical Manager) and Nkululeko Molefe (Port Corporate Affairs Officer)


World-class service

Southern African Shipyards CEO Prasheen Maharaj said the launch of the tug within time and budget has demonstrated clearly that South Africa has the capabilities to deliver world-class services locally.

‘It is only when we boost our own economy that will we be able to address the current scourge of unemployment our youth faces.

‘The maritime sector and Operation Phakisa specifically serves as a beacon of hope for millions of young South Africans.’

Altogether, nine tugs are being built for ports nationwide as part of a wider fleet replacement programme that also includes new dredging vessels and new marine aviation helicopters.

The programme is aimed at improving operational efficiency in the ports.

TNPA’s fleet of nine tugs are each 31 metres long with a 70 ton bollard pull.

They feature latest global technology such as Voith Schneider propulsion, which makes them highly manoeuvrable.

Ukhozi will aid the Richards Bay port as it continues to service bigger commercial vessels more frequently.

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  AUTHOR
Mia Moorcroft
Journalist

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