A contract to repair the Richards Bay port terminal facility’s nine conveyor belts damaged in a 2021 fire has been awarded and a site meeting is scheduled to take place before the end of May, according to the Transnet Port Terminals’ chief executive, Jabu Mdaki.
In the meanwhile, a contractor who was awarded a tender to remove damaged material from the conveyor belt is making huge progress. The belt is expected to commence operations before the end of the year.
Mdaki informed customers from different mining companies at a recent engagement that work was under way to rid the Richards Bay Terminals and the port precinct of the current congestion.
He said he was pleased to announce that after several delays, there was now progress in dealing with structural challenges that, to a certain extent, crippled some operations at the terminal as a result of the fire incident that damaged nine of the 86 conveyor routes in 2021. Following that incident, the terminal introduced alternative cargo-handling methods for impacted commodities and currently runs a hybrid operation of both skips and conveyors to ensure continuity.
“We thought it is of paramount importance that we have an engagement of this nature with our customers. We are always of the strong conviction that we should be available to listen to their concerns so that we would be able to know where we need to tighten loose bolts. They have commended our interventions but equally raised concerns on certain issues. With these aggressive interventions we are very optimistic that the situation will be back to normal with speed,” said Mdaki.
Referring specifically to the issue of an avalanche of coal trucks trying to access the port’s terminals, acting managing executive, Reggie Mthembu, informed customers that the port had written to all mining companies indicating that trucks that had not been booked in, would not be attended to. The truck booking system became effective from May 13.
Mdaki committed Transnet to making good roads damaged by the truck volume in the port precinct. He said a contractor to repair road infrastructure had been appointed. He also assured customers that work was under way to deal with the storm drainage system. This after customers raised concerns about its shortcomings resulting in run-off water ending up in the coal stockpiles after heavy rains.
Sprinkler systems have been reinstated at the terminal to minimise dust, with water tankers crisscrossing the terminals day and night, spraying water on the road surface. Installation of dust nets at stockpiles will also commence soon.
Mdaki pointed out that the materials handling contract was awarded and later challenged in court by a losing bidder. As a result, it could not be awarded and everything ground to a halt. He said very soon the matter would be back in court and customers would be kept abreast of new developments in this regard.
The port will hold a media event on May 31 to outline its plans.
Transnet Port Terminals’ chief executive, Jabu Mdaki, is confident Richards Bay’s port woes will be overcome.