Transnet is assessing proposals for a business plan to set up a ship repair facility. Vuyo Kahla, a group executive in the office of the group chief executive, says no decision has been taken yet on whether the facility would indeed be established and where it would be situated, as the company still needed to evaluate its viability.
“Every now and again, people raise the need for a ship repair facility. There seems to be a belief that there is a market for it,” Kahla told Business Report newspaper last week. “If there is a business case for it, we will invest in activities that will support the ship repair facility but we would want to bring in people who have the expertise.” Kahla said in the event that a ship repair facility was built, the transport parastatal’s main role would be to provide the property using the National Ports Authority’s assets.
“We don’t see ourselves as experts in ship repair. We will work out where there could be a proper place and the private sector will be involved,” he said. “We want to run our ports on a complementary system. But the key point is that not everything will be done by ourselves,” he added. Kahla said many people believed that a ship repair facility would be viable because the number of vessels going round the Cape had increased as people avoided Somali seas owing to the piracy risk.
SA Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) CE Tsietsi Mokhele last year mooted similar plans in addition to a 300-ship merchant navy for South Africa. He said at the time that 30% of the current world crude oil trade flows around the SA coast. This translates as 5000 very-large or ultra-large crude carriers. Until recently traffic was largely east to west, but now, with Angola exporting to China, it has also developed a west to east momentum.
SA already has ship repair yards at Saldanha, Cape Town, Simon’s Town and Durban with smaller capabilities at Port Elizabeth and East London. A large shipbuilding yard was mooted some time ago for Richards Bay. Kahla told Business Report the facility could be located at Saldanha or Richards Bay.