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Port authorities refusing responsibility for ship damaged while in dry dock

Port authorities refusing responsibility for ship damaged while in dry dock

Port authorities at Cape Town Harbour have refused to accept responsibility for a second blunder with a ship in dry dock, resulting in damages of R18 million. 

The Malaysian ship, Go Regulus, suffered damage to her bow and stern after a caisson gate in the Sturrock dry dock opened prematurely while the part of the dock was filling up in December. The incoming water caused the Go Regulus to collide with ships docked in front and behind her. 

Two weeks prior to this, she suffered a series of indentions to her hull in the same dock after staff mixed up the docking blocks. 

The Transnet National Port Authority (TNPA) and the ship repairers Elgin‚ Brown and Hamer South Africa (EBH SA) have since been involved in a dispute over the repair bill, with the TNPA refusing to accept responsibility for the damage. 

Cape Town port manager of continuous improvement, Tolane Kotsi, refused to comment on liability but confirmed that the owners of the Go Regulus have been served with notice to vacate the dry dock, while the owners requested a reprieve for 14 days.

The TNPA's decision to not own up to negligence has been viewed by certain sources in a dim light, as it sends the wrong message to foreign companies considering using local ship repair facilities. 

Stakeholders in the shipping industry have for years raised concerns over the apparent lack of maintenance of port infrastructure, as well as skills shortages, in spite of government's commitment to invest in the industry under Operation Phakisa. 

Phakisa is a R615 million job-creation programme earmarked for essential upgrades to Cape Town harbour, including dry dock facilities and cranes used for ship repair.

EBH SA affirmed that they are in discussions with the TNPA to find a solution to the Go Regulus matter. 

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