The last week’s launch of the Africa’s First Dredging Simulator at the Transnet Maritime School of Excellence (MSOE) provided an excellent opportunity for Mr Richard Vallihu, Chief Executive of Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), to speak about the topic.
The inauguration of the Royal IHC dredging simulator, held on Friday, 2 September, marked the start of a new dredge training program that will develop and enhance the knowledge and skills of local dredging personnel.
Mr Richard Vallihu began by thanking all those present for attending the ceremony. “It is a great pleasure for us as TNPA in partnership with the Transnet Maritime School of Excellence, to celebrate the launch of Africa’s first every dredging simulator.”
“I am very proud to say that this project has been brought to fruition as a result of the excellent working relationship between Royal IHC and TNPA,” he added. “This relationship began in 1981 with IHC’s building of the trailing suction hopper dredger (TSHD) Moffat, and continued with the process equipment upgrade on the Ingwenya in 2007, the building of the TSHD Isandlwana in 2010, our new Grab Hopper Dredger the Italeni in 2014 and the TSHD Ilembe which became the newest member of our dredging fleet this year.”
According to Mr Vallihu, these investments were all part of TNPA Dredging Services’ fleet replacement program which is in excess of R 2 billion. “This program is one way in which we are striving to improve the operational performance of our ports under the Transnet Market Demand Strategy (MDS) which is now in its fourth year of implementation.”
“Transnet’s supplier development initiatives require tender respondents to submit their commitments to development over the duration of the contract and beyond. Acquisition of this simulator therefore emanated from Royal IHC’s 25% supplier development contribution within a multi-million rand contract to build TNPA’s Ilembe dredger,” continued Mr Vallihu. “TNPA and Royal IHC signed a memorandum of understanding to enhance regional port development. This covers skills development, research and development, the exchange of technical maritime dredging expertise and dredging infrastructure development.”
“Royal IHC has come to the party on this in a remarkable manner, and I salute them for this. We are pleased that IHC has committed to transferring knowledge and/or capital assets, to contribute to increased capability of the regional supply base, which will ultimately lead to improved efficiency and overall regional capacity,” he added. “These are exactly the ideals of Transnet’s Market Demand Strategy (MDS) –and TNPA’s R56 billion-plus investments within this strategy.”
“Through the acquisition of this dredging simulator, we can develop skills and create jobs in South Africa and beyond borders in line with the Government’s Nine-Point Growth Plan. Instead of sending staff overseas for dredging training we can now do this locally through the dredging school to be fully operational by 2017,” said Mr Vallihu. “I am passionate about creating marine capability and positioning TNPA as a leader in the region. We are on a drive to build our own capabilities by developing mission critical skills that will help us to cater for the needs of the Southern African port system.”
“A number of regional ports are also ramping up plans to expand port capacity including major dredging projects, so we would like to be in a position to provide human capacity for that as well in the near future. We are also a key player in the South African government’s Operation Phakisa: Oceans Economy initiative which is now a major driver of our investments in the port system,” he continued. “We are on a journey to create a digitally smart, safe and secure port system with the infrastructure and capacity to promote economic growth, job creation, transformation and sustainable benefits for port communities.”
“However we cannot achieve these goals without having the requisite skills in place. Training people to join our marine divisions is an integral part of TNPA’s transformation agenda in terms of the Market Demand Strategy and ongoing support of Government’s New Growth Path policy,” added Mr Vallihu.
“I have every confidence that this simulator will be a huge asset to TNPA in supporting this fundamental activity that allows everything else in the ports to run smoothly. I look forward to many years of the simulator’s productive service, capability building and skills enablement,” ended Mr Vallihu.