South Africa’s national port infrastructure and marine services agency, Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), has given the assurance that the preliminaries for the project to establish a new base for the South African Navy (SA Navy) at Richards Bay are progressing well. In return for the new base, the SA Navy will transfer its current Naval Station Durban, located on Salisbury Island in Durban harbour, to TNPA.
The relocation project will involve an investment of more than R9-billion. It was officially announced on Tuesday in an address by Chief of the SA Navy Vice Admiral Monde Lobese. TNPA will use the naval station site (which long ago ceased to be an island) to expand the facilities of Durban port, which is the country’s largest and busiest port.
“Projects of this nature are quite complex and require a lot of finesse and sensitivity in the delivery approach,” highlighted TNPA KwaZulu-Natal Logistics Hub Programme portfolio director Dr Bridgette Gasa-Toboti. “Precisely because the SA Navy relocation project touches on the safety of our Republic, we have had to ensure that all key and strategic partners are fully on board.”
Richards Bay lies about 180 km north-northeast of Durban and is the deepest natural harbour in Africa. Construction of the harbour started in 1972 and hitherto it has best been known for its coal export terminal, although it also serves to export other bulk commodities.
The construction of a new naval base at Richards Bay is actually part of TNPA’s expansion plans for that port. That plan includes expanding Richards Bay’s dry bulk cargo capacity and the development of several liquid bulk products terminals, including a liquified natural gas terminal.
“We are quite pleased with the level of collaboration that we are observing from both TNPA and the SA Navy, who jointly chair the steering committee and other operational committees, in ensuring the achievement of project objectives within the stipulated timeframes,” she reported. The last step needed before the actual implementation of the project is the signing of a memorandum of agreement between the SA Navy and TNPA. This is expected within the next few weeks.
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