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Desalination plant in East London is Transnet’s first step towards water independence

Home Transport & Logistics Ports, Shipping & Harbour Infrastructure Desalination plant in East London is Transnet’s first step towards water independence

TRANSNET National Ports Authority has awarded a R60 million, seven-year contract for the construction and operation of a solar-powered water desalination plant at the Port of East London. The plant will reduce TNPA’s reliance on external parties for the provision of freshwater.

Through an open tender process, the contract was awarded to a joint venture between Norland Civil Engineers and Contractors and Impact Water Solutions (IWS), trading as Sun Water East London.

“The introduction of this alternative water solution is a step towards the advancement of the port system and seeks to minimise TNPA’s reliance on external parties for the provision of freshwater. The project is in line with the Ports Authority’s strategic plan of increasing its utilities supply resilience and ensuring security of utilities supply by 2029,” said acting TNPA chief executive, Advocate Phyllis Difeto.

TNPA’s first seawater desalination plant will produce 0.5 mega litres (ML) per day and convert seawater into potable water of drinking quality.

Key to this initiative is TNPA’s use of renewable energy to complement other energy sources. “The use of solar-power technology will help to reduce the cost of operations,” said Difeto.

TNPA’s executive manager for utilities development, Tandokazi Nquma-Moyo told eNCA that the desalination plant will not just be servicing TNPA, but also clients within the Port of East London. This includes terminal operators, vessels calling at the port and some of the industries close to the port.

Nquma-Moyo said the first water was expected from the plant in 2027 and that TNPA had plans and budget to roll out similar systems across other ports.

TNPA says that around 100 direct and indirect jobs are expected to be created, and this is likely to increase during project execution, for the benefit of the East London community.

IWS, a South African company that offers a wide range of services in the water sector, has experience in developing, financing, building and operating decentralised water infrastructure by integrating renewable energy with innovative water technologies.

The other JV partner, Norland Construction, specialises in concrete reservoirs, pipelines, irrigation canals and other building earthworks amongst other capabilities. Norland Construction brings engineering and fit-for-purpose equipment to ensure high quality construction and workmanship within the stipulated timeframe. It is a level 1 B-BBEE company.

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