The announcement comes following intensive conversations between DEDAT, Wesgro, industry and strategic partners with Transnet National Port Authority (TNPA) around discussions for improving the ports infrastructure.
The new caisson forms part of a multimillion rand overhaul of the port’s ship repair facilities over a three year period (2019-2022) under South Africa’s Operation Phakisa Programme, which has identified ship building and repairs as a strategic industry for the port.
A caisson - which is a large steel gate structure that acts as a secondary seal and subdivides the dock allows for simultaneous docking of multiple commercial vessels within the facility - is expected to double the productivity of Sturrock, which is celebrated as one of the biggest dry docks in the Southern Hemisphere.
South Africa ranks among the world’s top 15 shipping nations, based on the tonnage transported to and from its ports, with 3 of the 8 major commercial ports based in the Western Cape. Further to this, the Province is the production hub of the South African ship building industry and is home to the country’s largest luxury yacht builders, Robertson and Caine and Southern Wind.
In addition to this, it is estimated that around 68% of commercial boat yards are located in the Western Cape. Although the majority of marine manufacturing capacity is located in and around Cape Town, boat yards have also been established in St. Helena Bay, Velddrif, Saldana Bay, Swellendam, George and Knysna.
Employing 4 000 people, contributing R1.5 billion to the provincial economy in 2017 - 95% of manufactured products in the sector are exported with Cape Town identified as the 2nd biggest exporter of Catamarans.
“The introduction of a caisson that can now allow for multiple docking of commercial vessels allows for Sturrock Dry Dock to significantly increase ship repairing capacity, which will facilitate job creation. The total value of turnover of provincial ship repairs in 2016 was estimated at around R2.2 billion, revealing the potential for significant economic gain to the province through investment of updating the dock facilities,” said Wesgro CEO Tim Harris.
Minister of Economic Opportunities, commented: "The Western Cape's boat building and repairs industry has the potential for tremendous growth, job creation and skills development and the construction of the new caisson will assist in making our port more productive and efficient. The investment into our port infrastructure to ensure that we are able to take advantage of all opportunities in this sector, is welcome."
Mr Solly Fourie, Head of Department Economic Development and Tourism further explained: “Trade is the life blood of the economy. R 1.73 billion of goods enters and leaves South African ports every year. About 30 000 ships passes South Africa’s coastline annually and 12 000 of them make calls into our ports. Many of these vessels require services like repairs and maintenance which represents a significant opportunity for jobs. The marine vessel fabrication, repairs and maintenance employed 10 280 people in 2017. A constraint to job growth in this sector is a dearth of suitable infrastructure to service these vessels. The Western Cape Government welcomes and appreciates the R 98 million budgeted by the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) for the construction of the floating Caisson in the Sturrock Dry Dock at the Port of Cape Town. This investment by the TNPA will facilitate the creation of hundreds of direct and indirect jobs required to service vessels in the port.”
Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Opportunities and Asset Management, Alderman James Vos, commented: “The boat building industry was severely hit by the global recession in 2012, with traders in this sector having to seek employment in other manufacturing industries. The City of Cape Town welcomes all steps taken to boost the revival of this key economic sector. This will undoubtedly contribute towards our current 40 plus boatyards and 3500 specialist staff who produce award-winning craft."
"I am proud to build on our track record of being one of the top catamaran producing countries in the world. Seeking to expand the boat building foot print of Cape Town, our team, in partnership with Wesgro, are currently leading a mission to the world-class Miami Boat Show event,” added Vos.
Wesgro is Cape Town and the Western Cape's official Tourism, Trade and Investment Promotion Agency, and receives its mandate and funding from the Western Cape Government's Department of Economic Development and Tourism and the City of Cape Town.