13 October 2009
The MSC Catania made history last week when it became the first commercial vessel to discharge its cargo at South Africa’s new deepwater Port of Ngqura, which forms part of the Coega industrial development zone outside Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape province.
On Sunday 4 October, the MSC Catania loaded and off-loaded a total of 275 containers, at an average of 19 containers per hour.
The second commercial vessel to call at Ngqura – the 275 metre long MSC Shanghai with a draft of 14.5m – entered the port on Tuesday 6 October to discharge cargo at Ngqura’s container terminal.
“This was the first time the large vessel was able to call in Port Elizabeth, and it took advantage of the Port of Ngqura’s deep water capacity, with an entrance channel depth of 18 metres and a basin depth of 16 metres,” state logistics company Transnet said in a statement.
The MSC Shanghai off-loaded 50 containers and loaded 101 containers, with an average 17 containers being handled per hour.
Container traffic growth
The Port of Ngqura and its 60-hectare container terminal represents Transnet’s solution to South Africa’s long-time shortage of container capacity, resulting from the growth in container traffic worldwide.
To date, Transnet has invested in excess of R10-billion to develop the state-of-the-art port and associated infrastructure. This will include a world-class two-berth container terminal – with a further two berths under construction – a two-berth multipurpose terminal, and a one-berth liquid bulk terminal.
The Port of Ngqura’s advantage over other ports in Africa is that it is a deepwater port, with a depth of between 16 and 18 metres, allowing it to accommodate the new-generation container vessels.
The crane which lifted the first container off the first commercial vessel to discharge at Ngqura was operated by a female crane driver.
Nozuko Caroline Ndevulana became a trailblazer when, seated at the controls of a Megamax ship-to-shore crane, she picked up the first container off the MSC Catania.
“Caroline is a seasoned crane operator – in addition to STS cranes, she is also certified on rail-mounted gantries,” Transnet said.
Ndevulana joined Transnet Port Terminals’ container terminal in Port Elizabeth in 2002 as an articulated vehicle driver before progressing to the ranks of operator on straddle carriers as well as cranes.
“I am so proud to have been part of history in the making while also contributing towards the economy of the country,” she said.
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