The Port of Durban has made significant strides in the improvement of its marine craft status by increasing tug availability to an average of six tugs as of December 2023.
The increased tug availability is set to complement the 24-hour helicopter service, ensure a quicker turnaround of vessels at the port and allow terminal operators to implement the Container Recovery Plan at the port, with agility. The Plan was put in place to clear backlogs and improve the turnaround time of vessels calling the container terminals.
The port has seen severe delays recently due to various factors, including adverse weather conditions and equipment availability and maintenance.
“Having all six tugs operating is a big step in the right direction for the port and our investment in the marine fleet exhibits our commitment to continuous improvement and ensuring the port remains a gateway for trade.
“We are optimistic about the positive impact these tugs will have on the current container recovery plan and our general service offering to our customers,” Transnet National Ports Authority, Port Manager at the Port of Durban, Mpumi Dweba-Kwetana said on Friday.
The six operational tugs namely: Umkhomazi, Mkhuze, Lotheni, Palmiet, Pholela and uMhlali, are playing a vital role in adding the required tug capacity and availability in the improvement of operational efficiencies in the port.
“This milestone comes after the introduction of the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) wide fleet renewal programme, which seeks to ensure that marine crafts are maintained and serviced periodically to mitigate against breakdowns and provide a buffer should there be a need.
“The provision of tugs falls within the ambit of TNPA as stipulated in Section 11 (n) of the National Ports Act of 2005, which states that the authority should provide or arrange for tugs, pilot boats and other facilities and services for the navigation and berthing of vessels in the ports.
"Most of the repair and maintenance of the Port of Durban marine fleet has been carried out by TNPA’s internal heavy engineering workshop, Workshop 24, which is based in the Bayhead Precinct in the port," Transnet said.
TNPA also anticipates the delivery of three second-hand tugs to the Port of Durban in the first quarter of 2024.
TNPA is responsible for the safe, effective and efficient economic functioning of the national port system, which it manages in a landlord capacity.
It provides port infrastructure and marine services at the eight commercial seaports in South Africa – Richards Bay, Durban, Saldanha, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, East London, Mossel Bay and Ngqura.
It operates within a legislative and regulatory environment and is governed by the National Ports Act (Act No. 12 of 2005). – SAnews.gov.za