Cape Town’s big noon bang

first_imgA signal from the South AfricanAstronomical Observatory’s atomic clockensures the Noon Day Gun is fired atexactly the right time.(Image © Willy Koorts, South AfricanAstronomical Observatory)MEDIA CONTACTS• South African Navy Public RelationsCaptain Jaco Theunissen,• Noon Gun Tea Room and Restaurant+27 21 423• Cape Town Tourism+27 21 405 HolmesAs hidden attractions go, Cape Town’s Noon Day Gun is hard to miss.Jaded office workers barely look up from their desks when the cannons of Lion Battery boom across the city, but tourists are easy to spot, jumping in alarm with the frenzied look of someone under attack.In truth, though, the two 18-pounder smooth-bore muzzle-loading guns on the slopes above the city have not been fired in anger since the short-lived Battle of Muizenberg (PDF, 113 KB) on 7 August 1795.That’s just one snippet of Cape Town trivia you’ll discover on a visit to the Lion Battery on the rump of Signal Hill, where each day an officer from the South African Navy regales a small crowd of tourists and curious locals with the history of Cape Town’s oldest living tradition.Cast by London’s Walker & Company in 1794, the two cannons were brought to the Cape during the 1795 British occupation and for over a century were fired from the Imhoff Battery in the city bowl.The noon firing wasn’t simply a case of trigger-happy soldiers, though. The daily firing allowed ships to set their chronometers to the correct time – vital information when navigating by sextant on the high seas. During the First and Second World Wars the daily firing was also used to mark a two-minute silence for the fallen.In 1902, with the city of Cape Town growing around the Imhoff Battery, the decision was made (presumably encouraged by deafened residents) to move them to their current site on the slopes of Signal Hill.The two cannons – only one is fired, but both are loaded daily in case of a misfire – are the oldest of their type in the world and, as the signboard at the Battery will tell you, have been fired over 63 800 times since 1803. In all that time it has failed to fire only once – in January 2005.Although the Battery now falls within the Table Mountain National Park, the South African Navy is still responsible for firing the guns six days per week. Sundays are for rest … and peace and quiet.So, with cannons loaded, how is the gun fired (video) at exactly noon each day? The apocryphal explanation goes like this. A man walks into a Long Street watchmaker, and notices that all the clocks on the wall are showing precisely the same time. “How do you always know the correct time?” the man asks.“Well, I simply listen for the Noon Day Gun, and I set all my clocks by that,” replies the watchmaker.Intrigued, the man decides to visit the Noon Day Gun, and asks the Navy officer on duty how he knows when it’s exactly noon to fire the cannon. “Well,” says the officer, holding a telescope to his eye, “there’s this watchmaker down there on Long Street with a clock in the window …”The reality is far more precise. An electrical signal is sent from the South African Astronomical Observatory (which has an unfailingly accurate atomic clock) a few milliseconds before noon. This burst of energy zips across telephone lines, ignites the firing cap on the cannon, sparks the gunpowder and … boom!The show might be over for another day, but that’s only half the attraction of this corner of Cape Town. Just a short walk from the cannons you’ll find a slice of the Cape’s culinary history.At the top of Longmarket Street, surely the steepest road in Cape Town, the last house on the left has been home to the Misbach family for over 65 years. For the last 16 it’s also been home to one of Cape Town’s loveliest restaurants, the Noon Gun Tea Room and Restaurant.Long popular with overseas tourists, curious locals are slowly starting to venture up the steep cobbled street to tuck into the delicious bredies, breyanis and bobotie cooked up by Zaini Misbach and her family.“These are all my grandmother’s recipes. Passed on from her grandmother, and then her grandmother,” says Zaini. “The original Malay people made do with the spices they found here in the Cape so they are spicy dishes, but toned down from what you’d find in the East.”Main courses range from R75 to R95, but come in hearty portions that offer great value for money.“On Saturday nights we have what we call our ‘Recession meal’, which is just R65 per person for a three-course meal – and there’s live jazz too!” says Zaini.Whether you stop in for a recession-busting bredie or just block your ears at the stroke of noon, this is certainly one corner of the Cape’s colourful history worth exploring.Noon Day GunLion Battery, Military Road, Bo-KaapTurn from Buitengracht into Bloem Street, and follow the signsArrive before 11.45am to hear the history of the Noon Day GunAdmission freeThe Noon Gun Tea Room & Restaurant273 Longmarket Street, Bo-Kaap+27 21 423 9978Open for lunch and dinner Monday to Saturday. Lunch only on SundaysIn keeping with Malay culture, no alcohol is served, or allowed, in the restaurantlast_img read more

Nigerian project wins top award

first_imgCows to Kilowatts takes abattoir wasteand converts it into a low-cost renewableenergy source. (Image: stock.xchng) MEDIA CONTACTS • Dr Joseph AdeleganGlobal Network for Environment and Economic Development Research+234 80 6284 3428RELATED ARTICLES • SA to produce more solar energy • Africa’s carbon trading potential • A power plant in your home • Rallying aroud cleaner energyJanine ErasmusAn innovative Nigerian project that processes abattoir water and converts the collected organic waste into fertiliser and methane, has won the 2009 Intel Environment prize at the annual Tech Awards in the US.The Tech Awards, held this year in San Jose, California, in November, honoured creativity and inventiveness across a range of fields, including the environment, education, science, health and more.The project, titled Cows to Kilowatts, was founded by civil engineer Dr Joseph Adelgan. In developing countries especially, abattoir waste is a major source of water pollution and greenhouse gas production. Through the processing of organic waste, the project helps mitigate one of the biggest threats to the future of the planet, as well as promote the use and benefits of renewable energy.Adelgan is the founder of the Global Network for Environment and Economic Development Research (Gneeder), an NGO that that works in poor urban communities to improve quality of life, reduce air pollution and create cheap sources of domestic energy.The organisation is currently working on another power-generating project for impoverished West Africans, using cassava factory waste.Projects are based in Nigeria and Ghana at the moment, but there are plans to roll them out in other sub-Saharan countries.Keeping water cleanIn Nigeria regulation of abattoir waste is lax, and there are few facilities for water treatment. In Ibadan, the country’s second biggest city, waste from the Bodija Municipal Abattoir used to run out into open drains. These are connected to surface water sources, which resulted in severe contamination of groundwater with pathogens such as salmonella, Escherichia coli, and the deadly Rift Valley fever virus.The waste water from this abattoir has an extremely high biochemical oxygen demand, which is an indicator of organic pollution. Communities living in the area had no choice but to use the contaminated water, so the situation was desperate.“People were drinking from shallow wells,” said Adelgan in an interview, “and people in the neighbourhood were getting sick. They didn’t understand why they were getting sick.”Cows to Kilowatts started off as a collaborative project between Gneeder, the Centre for Youth, Family and the Law, and the Sustainable Ibadan project. The initial goal was merely to treat the abattoir waste in an effluent plant, rendering it less harmful to communities and the environment and preventing groundwater pollution.However, the team soon came across a related problem – the decomposing organic waste that was releasing carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere. Both are greenhouse gases, but methane is 23 times more lethal in bringing about climate change than carbon dioxide.A new strategy using biogas technology was introduced. Applicable on both large and small scales, the process uses reactors to digest organic waste and convert it into low-cost energy.The three founding organisations joined up with scientists at the Biogas Technology Research Centre at Thailand’s King Mongkut University of Technology Thonburi, and with funding from the UN Development Programme in Nigeria, they designed and built a pilot biogas plant in Ibadan. This uses an anaerobic fixed film digester to break down the waste. The resulting sludge is turned into high-quality organic fertiliser, and methane and carbon dioxide are collected before they can dissipate into the atmosphere and cause harm.The plant supplies around 5 400 cylinders of biogas per month, which is used for cooking, electricity generation, and to power vehicles – at just 25% of the cost of liquefied natural gas. Furthermore, the organic fertiliser is sold to farmers at a fraction of the cost of chemical fertiliser.Poor families often have to rely on kerosene, paraffin and wood for heating, cooking and light, which pollute the air in the home. By using biogas they not only improve their living conditions, but also help curb deforestation, as the demand for wood drops.Honouring innovationEstablished in 2001, the Tech Awards came about as a result of the State of the Future report, a publication of the Millennium Project of the American Council of the United Nations University. The report stated that acknowledgement of innovation through awards is a valuable tool for stimulating scientific and technological breakthroughs to improve people’s quality of life.The Tech Awards programme pays tribute to technology that enables people to live a better life. It honours 15 enterprising projects in five categories: health, education, equality, the environment, and economic development. There are three winners in each category, and the top five laureates walk away with US$50 000 (R378 717) each.Laureates are then inducted into the Tech Awards Network, which provides opportunities for learning, networking and collaboration.last_img read more

Students to get help with loan payments

first_img30 May 2011The Department of Higher Education and Training is coming to the rescue of about 25 000 students from various universities who have completed their studies but are unable to graduate and get jobs because they have not finished paying off student loans.Briefing the media in Cape Town last week, Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande said his department would set aside about R200-million to help students who still owed monies to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).Those who meet the requirements to graduate between 2000 and 2010, and who are eligible for NSFAS loans, can apply for this special funding through their respective student financial aid offices, he said.Nzimande, who also made several other announcements on the NSFAS, said the new measure would apply to students that registered for loans from 1 April.Doubling disbursements, limiting interestThese included a doubling of disbursements under the fund – from R2.7-billion in the 2010/11 financial year to R5.4-billion this financial year – and placing a limit on interest charged on student loans, so that students no longer have to pay the interest on their loans until 12 months after their graduation.At present, interest charged on loans kicks in the moment you sign for a loan, unlike in Brazil and Canada, where interest payments on student loans only become payable after a student graduates.Added to this, R50-million has been provided for postgraduate students who require financial assistance to complete their degrees.These students will enter into loan agreements with the NSFAS and the money they pay back would be earmarked to fund post-graduate students, Nzimande said.Working with SARSNzimande hastened to add that this wasn’t a licence for other students to not pay back their NSFAS loans – he said the department would approach the South African Revenue Service (SARS) to assist in tracing and forcing NSFAS beneficiaries who were now working but were not paying back their loans to do so.Source: BuaNewslast_img read more

Boost for trucking wellness drive

first_imgTrucking Wellness is hoping to test 20 000people a year with the 10 new mobilecentres donated to them.(Image: CONTACTS• Zelma WilliamsTrucking Wellness+27 11 387 3424Nosimilo RamelaThe Trucking Wellness programme, which provides primary healthcare and HIV/Aids awareness to truck drivers along South Africa’s major routes, has received 10 more mobile centres.The clinics – made possible by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Mercedes-Benz South Africa, the South African Business Coalition on HIV/Aids (SABCOHA) and the National Bargaining Council for the Road Freight and Logistics Industry (NBCRFLI) – will provide screening for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), HIV/Aids testing and counselling, and hand out antiretroviral drugs to long-distance truck drivers.The Trucking Wellness initiative was started in 1999 by the NBCRFLI in partnership with other public and private organisations committed to fighting the spread of HIV/Aids in the trucking industry.According to the organisation, the trucking industry is one of the hardest hit by HIV/Aids. There are approximately 70 000 truck drivers in South Africa, and an estimated 25% HIV/Aids prevalence rate within the trucking industry.In view of these statistics and the danger of losing drivers to diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/Aids-related illnesses, it was vital to establish an accessible healthcare scheme such as the industry’s Trucking Wellness programme.Trevor Short, chairperson of NBCRFLI, which is part of the wellness programme, said the health of truck drivers in the country is crucial as 80% of goods in South Africa are transported by road.“To lose key personnel here would present a threat to the industry and to the national economy.”Kobus van Zyl, vice president of Mercedes Benz South Africa, another partner in the programme, agrees: “Imagine the impact on our economy if the spread of this disease was left unchecked in the trucking industry. Truck drivers in their thousands transport goods between suppliers and consumers or secondary manufacturers daily.”Short said the programme tested 2 330 employees in the year 2000, using just two mobile clinics. He said they were hoping to test 20 000 people a year with the 10 new mobile centres.“The Trucking Wellness programme is not glamorous, but it works,” he said.The mobile clinics will be situated at truck depots where drivers stop to get their trucks serviced while they are on their journey. The programme also operates 21 wellness centres staffed by registered nurses and counsellors, situated along the country’s major transport routes.Extending the reachBrad Mears, CEO of SABCOHA, said his coalition was also working on taking the Trucking Wellness programme across Southern Africa. “HIV/Aids is often viewed by the country’s neighbours as a huge snake with its head in South Africa.”SABCOHA provides project management and coordination services to the wellness programme.South Africa’s Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has commended the programme and said the services would also be extended to women who may be at risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections from truckers.He added that the Department of Health was aware of the dangers that long-distance truck drivers were exposed to as a result of being away from their spouses for long periods. “It is important to provide our truck drivers with primary healthcare services, including counselling, to minimise the risks to themselves and their spouses,” he said.“I commend the South African Business Coalition on HIV/Aids for working with us in this regard.”last_img read more

Fingerprinting world first for SA

first_img7 October 2011In a world first, researchers at South Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) have developed a structural fingerprint classifier that is able to correctly classify a fingerprint using only partial information.The researchers also introduced novel fingerprint features – collectively referred to as pseudo-singular points – as a feeder to their “extensible structural fingerprint classifier”.The CSIR’s head of information security research, Professor Fulufhelo Nelwamondo, explained the need for a classification module: “In fingerprint recognition, fingerprint templates normally sit in a database.“So when going through an identification process, the system has to sift through thousands if not millions of templates, making the system slow in yielding results,” Nelwamondo said in a statement this week.He added that a classification module essentially broke down the overall database into smaller, manageable chunks to improve the performance of a fingerprint recognition system.“Both the extensible fingerprint classifier and the pseudo-singular point detection module will allow the system to be extremely fast and accurate when database search is conducted,” he said. “This will add to the overall efficiency of the entire fingerprint recognition system.”National identification systemNelwamondo said that such a system was used on a daily basis in large and integrated solutions, such as the Department of Home Affairs’ national identification system.“However, this breakthrough could contribute to future systems that are even faster because of the system’s ability to match fingerprints using only partial information.”From this technological breakthrough, CSIR researchers are now rigorously studying the concept of pseudo-singular point detection (P-SPD) and false transition elimination, a concept that emerged from P-SPD.The latter involves identification and location approximation of a global fingerprint landmark.Pseudo-singular points are faux versions of the conventional singular points, yet they are easy to detect and provide almost the same classification accuracy.SAinfo reporterWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

Transforming waste to wealth

first_imgLorna Rutto from Kenya has been namedthe Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards 2011laureate for sub-Saharan Africa.(Image: Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards) EcoPost uses 100% recycled plastics tomanufacture durable and eco-friendlyfencing posts.(Image: EcoPost) EcoPost has created opportunities forunemployed youth and women, whomake a living by collecting, sortingand cleaning plastic waste for reselling.(Image: EcoPost) MEDIA CONTACTS • Lorna RuttoEcoPost+254 721 953 768RELATED ARTICLES• Portable plant makes fuel from waste • Waste gives Such artistic inspiration • Waste drive reaps rewards • CSIR coating gives 40x shelf life • Plastic recycling major job spinner Wilma den HartighLorna Rutto from Kenya has been named the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards 2011 laureate for sub-Saharan Africa for her creative business idea of making fence posts from plastic waste.The Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards is an international business plan competition that was created in 2006 to identify, support and encourage projects by women entrepreneurs.It was established by renowned French jeweller and watchmaker Cartier; the Women’s Forum, the first forum of its kind that advances women’s empowerment; global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company; and the INSEAD business school.Every year, six female entrepreneurs, each representing a major world region, are selected from 18 finalists. The Middle East and North Africa feature in their own award region, alongside Latin America, North America, Europe, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia-Pacific.Each of the six laureates receives US$20 000 (R161 000), coaching for one year, and networking opportunities.The awards initiative is playing an important role in helping women entrepreneurs succeed in the world of business.”Starting up in business has been a taxing venture since 2009, with a sharp decline in access to funding,” says Bernard Fornas, president and CEO of Cartier.“We are delighted to play our part in helping such enterprising women to develop and scale their businesses and bring bright ideas to the world.”A bright idea making a differenceA desire to clean up the environment, coupled with a good business idea, is what inspired Rutto to establish EcoPost, which uses 100% recycled plastics to manufacture durable and eco-friendly fencing posts.Her love for the environment was already evident from an early age when she started collecting discarded plastic to make earrings.”Though it wasn’t really the earrings I was interested in, I just wanted to find a way to get rid of all that plastic!” she says.Years later, she graduated with a commerce and accounting degree. She started her career in banking, but she never forgot her love for the environment.Shortly afterwards, she quit her job and established EcoPost, now known internationally for its contribution to solving Kenya’s waste problem.The company’s plastic fencing posts are versatile and suitable for fencing of farms, homes, national parks, game reserves and commercial premises such as cattle ranches and tourist resorts.They can also be used as support beams for houses, cowsheds and garages.Unlike wood, plastic fencing posts don’t rot; they aren’t prone to termite attacks; they are durable; cost-effective; easy to work with; and cannot be stolen for use as firewood.A solution for wasteThere is no shortage of recyclable plastic in Kenya. Nairobi alone generates more than 2 800 tons of waste every day, of which 20% is plastic.Rutto’s EcoPost initiative provides an alternative management solution to the country’s plastic waste dilemma.The Kenyan government banned the use of polythene bags, also known as “flimsy plastics”, in 2007. However, at the time the country was still producing millions of plastic bags.Although the new regulations are in effect, the ban is largely been ignored and plastic bags are still in use.Once the bags are discarded, they spoil the environment, or pile up in open waste tips or landfill sites.Any plastic waste that can go through the extrusion process, which breaks down raw plastic, can be used.“This includes plastic such as polypropylene and polyethylene – the material used to make those carrier bags that clog the landfills. We can recover and use all of these for our posts,” Rutto explains.In its first eight months of operation, Rutto and her team produced 5 000 posts and removed 300 tons of plastic waste from the environment. Every month, EcoPost uses approximately 20 tons of plastic waste.Plastic helps to save treesEcoPost is also helping to preserve Kenya’s forests and cut down on deforestation. The plastic posts are an affordable alternative to timber, which reduces the need for fencing material manufactured from wood.Kenya has about 2% forest cover, but the high demand for wood to produce fence posts for houses, plantations and game reserves is rapidly depleting the country’s remaining forests.For many years fencing posts were made from Red Cedar trees. However, these trees are now endangered and since 2007 it is illegal to chop them down.This is where Rutto’s EcoPosts are making a major difference. For every 25 posts sold, EcoPost saves a fully matured Red Cedar tree.Creating jobsThe business has created opportunities for unemployed youth and women, who make a living by collecting, sorting and cleaning plastic waste for reselling.EcoPost works in partnership with about 200 collectors and buys the waste from them at a rate per kilogram.Rutto says that by the third year of operation, EcoPost aims to create 100 direct and more than 500 indirect jobs. Currently EcoPost employs 15 permanent staff.She says that the demand for the product is growing so fast that soon they will have to expand their operations.The business has already bought a new extrusion machine that will make it possible to double the number of fence posts manufactured per quarter.She says the demand for their recycled plastic fence posts will also increase as timber becomes more expensive.Future plansFor Rutto the most rewarding aspect of her business is doing what she loves most – caring for the environment, helping people overcome poverty and making a contribution to solving Kenya’s waste problem.Before she was named as one of the winners, Rutto said in an interview that if she won, she would like to use her prize money to grow the business, improve the living standards of the women who work with the project and set up another ten waste collection yards.“It will provide a great entrepreneurial opportunity not only for me but also for the women who will set up and run the additional collection yards,” she explained. “It will also enable us to secure enough raw materials to take our business to the next level,”Now, she can do just that.last_img read more

P&G invests in ‘regional hub’ South Africa

first_img18 March 2013 Procter & Gamble (P&G) is to invest more than R1.6-billion in a new manufacturing plant in South Africa as the global consumer goods group moves to make the country its manufacturing hub for southern and eastern Africa. “South Africa is the most advanced economy in Africa and represents an attractive investment destination with good infrastructure,” Dimitri Panayotopoulos, P&G’s vice-chairman in charge of global business units, told a media conference held jointly with Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies in Johannesburg on Friday. Panayotopoulos said the new manufacturing plant would operate according to the highest sustainability standards and would become one of the largest P&G facilities in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region, producing a range of products for export to southern and eastern Africa.African manufacturing hub “We aim to make South Africa P&G’s manufacturing hub for the markets of southern and eastern Africa,” he said, adding that the new investment would create over 500 additional jobs at P&G. Construction is expected to begin in 2014 on a greenfield site which P&G will acquire in the near future, with production expected to commence in 2016 or early 2017. In 2009, P&G built a R500-million manufacturing plant for Pampers nappies in Johannesburg, creating hundreds of jobs and attracting a further R6.6-million in investments from suppliers.‘Vote of confidence in South Africa’ Davies, also speaking at Friday’s press conference, said the company’s latest investment bore testimony to the role that business was playing in South Africa’s economic development, was a vote of confidence in the future of the country. “Since P&G entered the South African market, it has contributed to creating environmentally and socially responsible economic growth and, in particular, more South African jobs,” Davies said. “Such investment clearly demonstrates the confidence in South Africa as an investment destination and South Africa as the gateway into the African continent.” Davies said that Africa’s economic integration was imminent, with the continent moving to address the challenges posed by fragmented markets, insufficient trade diversification and low levels of intra-African trade. He said that creating larger regional markets would increase specialisation and competition, while boosting manufacturing by offering improved economies of scale in industrial production. SAinfo reporterlast_img read more

Blitzbokke capture Edinburgh Sevens

first_img6 May 2013The Springbok Sevens team became the only team to win three times in the 2012/13 HSBC Sevens World Series when they captured the Edinburgh Sevens with a 28-21 victory over New Zealand on Sunday.It was South Africa’s second successive tournament win, following on victory in Tokyo last month. In fact, they have won three of the last four tournaments. Fiji, with two wins, is the only team to have won twice, while New Zealand has won just once despite making five finals.The Kiwis, however, captured the overall 2012/13 HSBC World Series title by reaching the final in Edinburgh, with South Africa in second place with one tournament left to go.Second placeFiji can still overhaul South Africa for second spot, providing they win the last tournament in London and the Blitzbokke fail to make the Cup quarter-finals.Commenting after the final, Springbok Sevens coach Paul Treu was quick to congratulate New Zealand for their Series win.“They were the most consistent team this year and that is why they are the overall champions, so it is well deserved to them,” he said.Treu then paid tribute to his players. “We arrived here without two of our playmakers (Branco du Preez and Cecil Afrika), but this just made the remaining players in the squad much more determined.‘Very rewarding’“We had to nurse a couple of players through this tournament, so it is very rewarding to see their hard work paying off.”The final was a tense affair. South Africa started well with a great try by Seabelo Senatla, but the Kiwis scored from the restart to level matters. They subsequently took a lead into half-time with a well-worked try (14-7).Treu’s talk at the break then lifted the Blitzbokke. “The coach reminded us to what our strong points are and urged us to execute that. He asked us to play minute-to-minute, doing what we do best. We did that and it worked for us,” captain Frankie Horne said afterwards.Tries by Steven Hunt, Philip Snyman and Cornal Hendricks took South Africa into a comfortable 28-14 lead before New Zealand added another converted try to set up a thrilling finish.South Africa’s defence held up to the challenge and the title was theirs.ResultsEarlier, they outclassed USA in the Cup quarters, beating them 22-5. Chris Dry, Senatla (2) and Paul Delport scored the tries.In the semi-finals, they faced England and, again, two breakaway tries by the speedy Senatla set-up the win. A Cornal Hendricks try secured a 24-17 victory.On day one, the Blitzbokke edged Kenya and Canada 17-14 and thumped Samoa 27-0 to finish top of their pool.SAinfo reporterWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

Cranes boost for SA port productivity

first_img14 May 2013South African state company Transnet has unveiled seven new ship-to-shore cranes at the Durban Container Terminal Pier 2 as part of its accelerated crane fleet acquisition programme to drive productivity and boost efficiency.The cranes were supplied by Zhenhua Heavy Industries Co (ZPMC) from Shanghai, China and were unveiled by Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba on Monday as part of Transnet’s seven-year, R300-billion market demand strategy.As part of the strategy, Transnet Port Terminals will buy 39 new ship-to-shore cranes over the next 20 years.The Durban port is the southern hemisphere’s biggest and busiest, but has suffered productivity challenges in the past due to outdated equipment.The new cranes have the ability to simultaneously handle two 12-metre containers or four six-metre containers and lift up to 80 tons. “They are the biggest in Africa and can handle new-generation vessels with 24 containers stowed across the deck,” Transnet said in a statement.“These capabilities will see a massive jump in productivity with gross crane moves per hour – a key measure of terminal efficiency and how well equipment is used – jumping from the current 26 to 33 GCH over the next three years,” Gigaba said.Transnet operators are also receiving intensive training on the cranes to improve productivity.“Ship working hour, the rate at which a terminal is able to load and offload container ships in an hour and a key consideration for our customers, will improve from the current 68 containers to 85 once our operators are fully conversant with operating the equipment and newer generation vessels with larger parcel sizes call to our ports,” he said.Transnet is also currently expanding the capacity of its Cape Town terminal and establishing its Eastern Cape Ngqura terminal as a trans-shipment hub.“The company has also acquired the old Durban International Airport site for the construction of a dig-out port to cater for projected rise in demand,” Transnet said. It will be built in phases between 2016 and 2039.SAinfo reporterlast_img read more

Transnet: Ports still the best ‘Gateway into Africa’

first_img29 October 2015He was positive about the organisation’s mid-financial year performance, Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) chief executive Karl Socikwa said, outlining in detail ways in which TPT could improve and grow its business in the context of changing economic, political and social climates, both at home and abroad.The group’s mid-year results are to be released today. Socikwa was speaking at an informative stakeholders engagement breakfast in Rosebank, Johannesburg yesterday.#TransnetPortTerminals (b2b) stakeholder discussions proceeding in JHB, this talks to new business developments— TransnetPortTerminal (@TPT_Transnet) October 28, 2015Socikwa said he believed the work done by Transnet Port Terminals and its sister group advanced South African competitiveness in not only global markets, but more vitally, on the African continent. An efficient and responsive economic infrastructure network was being built with African trade partner countries, which were set to flourish despite uncertainty in the global economic environment, particularly in Asia.Referring briefly to events in South Africa over the last few weeks, Socikwa summed up the marvel of the economic, political and social space in South Africa in a single word: “volatility”. These events included protests against corruption and university fees increases, as well as the Economic Freedom Fighters’ march on financial institutions on Tuesday.He added “that while there is never a dull moment in South Africa today, and it is not for the faint-hearted, South Africans should not view these pessimistically, rather looking at the changes as an opportunity to do the right things”.Future- proofing Africa’s port terminal operations – #GoogleAlerts— TransnetPortTerminal (@TPT_Transnet) October 5, 2015From a business perspective and organisational performance, Socikwa said that while some state-owned enterprises got “bashed, and some more deservedly than others”, they should never lose sight of the important role they played in aspiring growth and building the country.“Financial health is important,” he said, “and TPT is looking to drive its financial sustainability around not being too reliant on the state for assistance.”Transnet’s Market Demand Strategy is dedicated to aggressive investment in infrastructure and people. The focus is on upgrading port facilities with the most up- to-date technology and using the human element of operations more constructively.“There are some exciting ideas and technologies in the industry,” Socikwa said, “not only for improving infrastructure and communications, but also (for) optimising how we as TPT can integrate more effectively with our sister divisions at Transnet.”In an ever-changing global economy, particularly in the post-2008 downturn cycle, there had been a lot of sacrifice in investments, said the chief executive. The best way to counter the changes and uncertainty was to find new ideas, new ways of doing things in order to ensure vibrancy in the market.One way to do this was to not only invest in hard assets, but in soft assets as well, namely the people of Transnet. “We have a lot of good people on the ground at this company, people who know, from experience, how things work and how they can be improved, finding practical solutions to practical problems.”Africa was a market Transnet needed to penetrate as much as possible, he said, and South African ports, as far as moving trade and exchanging ideas was concerned, had an important role in connecting the continent. It was an effective “gateway” to these markets.“We shouldn’t get despondent that the Chinese downturn affects our dependency; we should look for opportunities in regional Africa, working with other growing African economies,” he said.last_img read more