Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) at the Port of Ngqura has officially opened its world-class administration building, which represents an investment of R255 million into the economy of the Eastern Cape Province.
The name of the new five storey administration building was revealed by TNPA Chief Executive Richard Vallihu, Chief Operating Officer Phyllis Difeto and Ngqura Port Manager Tandi Lebakeng at a special event on Friday, 23 June 2017 attended by port employees. It will be known as eMendi, in reference to the SS Mendi troopship that sunk in the English Channel 100 years ago carrying well over 800 servicemen, the majority of whom were black South Africans.
Vallihu said the new 10 000 m2 building would cater for Ngqura’s growing human resources as the port continues to expand. Ngqura is positioning itself as a major container transhipment hub for sub-Saharan Africa and an important link connecting trade between South America and Asia.
Such capital expenditure forms part of TNPA’s contribution to Transnet’s Market Demand Strategy which is now in its fifth year of implementation.
“This is not just a staff building but a platform for us to provide effective, efficient and economic port services at the Port of Ngqura. Transnet builds localisation into each of its contracts in order to foster economic growth and create jobs, and this project has certainly done so in the Eastern Cape,” he said.
Other projects within a recent R700 million capacity installation investment at Ngqura included construction of the port’s administration craft basin for pilot boats and tugboats, and the vacuum based automated mooring system which we introduced as a first for an African port.
Ngqura Port Manager Tandi Lebakeng said the new administration building was still on track for a 4-star green rating from the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA).
“We are very proud of this truly world-class building that is poised to become one of the premier ‘green’ buildings in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality,” she said.
Green building concepts incorporated in the design including rainwater harvesting, solar panels and light motion sensors in certain areas. The building’s large window areas allow it to take advantage of the port’s panoramic views and natural lighting flowing into the building thereby reducing the need for electrical lighting.
A lime kiln, dating back some 65 years is located outside the port side of the atrium and has been declared a heritage site. As such the lime kiln has been protected against damage during construction.
All Ngqura projects are subject to lengthy environmental assessment, design and tender stages to ensure that they comply with the strict conditions governing Ngqura’s operations in this environmentally sensitive area. TNPA controls and administers the port on behalf of the State.
With capacity to house 205 staff, the administration building is divided into east and west wings, separated by an atrium which extends the full height of the building and is serviced by two circular scenic lifts. An impressive Porte Cochere at the entrance welcomes both staff and visitors. Quality internal finishes and fixtures can be seen throughout.
In each wing are offices, as well as other facilities such as a gymnasium, canteen, boardrooms, training rooms, a Port Operations Centre and staff rest areas. The building includes a basement comprising parking bays as well as storage and plant rooms. There is also an open parking area outside.
Lebakeng said 154 jobs had been created during the construction phase of the admin building and admin craft basin. Forty eight of these jobs have been created for Black youth, while 285 skills Eastern Cape employees are also benefiting from skills development programmes associated with these projects.
“In addition, 15 SMMEs in the Eastern Cape have been engaged to provide materials, equipment and services which is a further injection into the local economy,” she said.
The next milestone at the port would be the opening of its R332 million administration craft basin scheduled for completion later in 2017. This new facility at the root of the eastern breakwater in the port basin will allow for docking of marine craft such as pilot boats and tugboats, as well as various vessels belonging to SAPS and SANPARKS.