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Africa’s first ever dredging simulator was launched today in the port city of Durban, South Africa – another positive spin-off of ongoing collaboration between Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), the Transnet Maritime School of Excellence (MSoE), Netherlands based Royal IHC and its world-renowned Training Institute.

The high-tech simulator – based at the MSoE’s Langeberg Road premises – will aid in building dredging capability in South Africa. Dredging is specialised underwater excavation that helps to keep ports and harbours safe and navigable and is a critical aspect of port development.
Transnet anticipates that over the first three-year period 50 students will complete training on the simulator as part of a holistic dredging training programme and could find work in Southern Africa or with international dredging contractors.

TNPA Chief Executive, Richard Vallihu, said the simulator would enable TNPA to support ports in Southern Africa to develop marine skills and grow their economies.

“Through this acquisition we can create jobs in line with the Government’s Nine-Point Growth Plan. Among the key focus areas of TNPA’s R56 billion-plus investments under the Transnet Market Demand Strategy (MDS) are creating capacity ahead of demand, maintenance upgrades, skills development and job creation. We are therefore striving to build our own capabilities by developing mission critical skills that will help us to cater for the needs of the Southern African port system. Instead of sending staff overseas for dredging training we can now do this locally through the dredging school to be fully operational by 2017.
“A number of regional ports are also ramping up plans to expand port capacity including major dredging projects, so we would like to be in a position to provide human capacity for that as well in the near future,” he said.

The multi-million Rand simulator mimics the control panel of an actual dredging vessel, complete with environmental simulation of weather conditions, sea states and soil types. This provides realistic training situations while eliminating the risk of accidents, production losses, damage and injuries that could occur while training in real life.
TNPA, the MSoE and Royal IHC have packaged a special dredging training programme that incorporates 12 weeks of classroom theory, eight weeks of simulation training and six months of practical training on-board a real dredging vessel.
The simulator will help to hone critical technical skills required for professions such as pipe operators, Dredge Masters and Dredging Managers. The first intake of trainees – six pipe operators – will commence training in January 2017.

Acquisition of the simulator emanated from Royal IHC’s 25% supplier development contribution within the contract to build TNPA’s Ilembe trailing suction hopper dredger. Ilembe was the fourth dredger built by Royal IHC as part of TNPA Dredging Services’ fleet replacement programme in excess of R2 billion.
TNPA and Royal IHC had signed a memorandum of understanding to enhance regional port development, covering skills development, research and development, the exchange of technical maritime dredging expertise and dredging infrastructure development.
Royal IHC provided bursaries and training to local South African training facilitators from the MSoE and TNPA Dredging Services. A special Dredging School is also in the pipeline.

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