Efforts to develop the oceans economy have gained momentum. The keel-laying of the first tug boat to be built in Port Elizabeth is seen as another step in developing oceans economy as part of Operation Phakisa in South Africa.

The tug boat project is part of Transnet National Ports Authority’s R2 billion investment into its dredging services and is set to create job opportunities.

A Mandela Coin has been welded onto the boat, as a symbol of good fortune, as per maritime tradition.

This will be the first Plough Tug boat to be built from scratch at the Port Elizabeth harbour, which only had boat repairing equipment.

A R100 million was invested in the project, expected to create job opportunities in the metro.

General Manager in infrastructure and port planning, Hamilton Nxumalo, says this is part of Operation Phakisa’s initiatives to promote localisation of businesses.

“Phakisa is about creating opportunities; it’s about creating job employment; it’s about training people and making opportunities available to those that were not afforded in the past. I’m proud to say that with my colleague, we are creating opportunities, during the construction of this dredger. Especially, when this dredger is up and running, it’s going to ensure that we employ more people to come and make sure it’s maintained properly.”

Operation Phakisa has already opened doors for smaller companies in South Africa.

The project was also awarded to a black-owned company, Tide Marine Shipyard – a company that’s working with training colleges to create employment for artisans.

Fabian Crocker is the company’s General Manager, “We have working relationships with Seta colleges as well as the premier’s office, where we have a certain designated number of students coming through the ranks during this build, because of it being an industry, not built for the past 10 years to 15 years in the Eastern Cape. A lot of those skills are more prevalent in Cape Town and KZN. So, what we’ve done is we’ve taken a percentage of experienced people from KZN and used the Seta colleges to train people in the Eastern Cape.”

The plough tug boat is expected to be completed by the end of October 2018.

It will have the latest technology and will be able to sail from port to port, and also assist in neighbouring countries.