Coega port blasting ahead

23 February 2005

South Africa will soon have a brand new high-capacity port. Developers say Ngqura, a multi-user deepwater port on the Coega River, and part of the multi-billion rand Coega industrial development zone (IDZ), is rapidly taking shape.

The government is spending about US$400-million on the port – and other improvements in and adjacent to the Coega IDZ.

Construction on the port is already far advanced, and the facility is expected to be ready for commercial traffic by the end of 2005. It will have a capacity for accommodating bigger container vessels than any of South Africa’s seven other commercial ports.

The filling up of the Ngqura harbour basin was completed in July 2004, which means that 5.75-million cubic metres of water have now replaced the 14-million cubic metres of beach sand that were removed.

With the depth of the channel and the protected position in Algoa Bay, the port is in one of the best spots for a harbour along the South African coast.

A channel carved by an ancient glacier allowed the development of the port to up to 23 metres. Protected from south-westerly winds by a finger of land, the port’s bay has 330 anchor days per year.

Coega’s cutter suction dredger finished cutting an approach channel into the basin in December, meaning that the water in the basin now rises and falls in time with the tide.

“With the quay walls complete, the successful filling of the harbour basin in July last year, the dredging finished, and the steady progress of the breakwaters, our main focus at the moment is the positioning of the concrete structures [caissons]”, said National Ports Authority resident engineer Chris Matchett.

Matchett said the caissons were towed into position using tugboats and positioned by a system of anchors and winches before being flooded and sunk on prepared stone foundation beds. reporter