Crunch time for syncrolift grit blasting, spray painting contractors

09 November 2021 | Infrastructure

The Namibian Ports Authority (Namport) invited the marine engineering industry and related stakeholders to a follow-up meeting on the Walvis Bay syncrolift environmental compliance obligations in the Namport Executive Boardroom on 22 November 2021 at 10:00.

Namport SHEQ manager, Stefanus Gariseb, said a final decision will be made on the way forward which could have cost and productivity implications, and therefore it is critical that all invited attend.

In the invitation addressed to all Walvis Bay syncrolift grit blasting and spray painting contractors, Gariseb said due to numerous complaints and claims received regarding damage caused to private property outside the syncrolift boundaries because of grit blast and spray painting activities, Namport in October 2018, submitted proposed changes to the marine engineering industry to minimize and/or eliminate these environmental non-compliances.

The proposed changes were to be implemented by 1 December 2018. However, upon request of the industry, Namport on 21 November 2018 waived these proposed requirements on condition that the marine engineering industry table a technical report on possible workable solutions.

“During a follow-up meeting with the industry on 14 May 2019, it was concluded that in order to select the best and most practical solution, rigorous and scientific testing be carried out to determine the effectiveness of these solutions.”

For this project, a third party would be appointed to conduct environmental monitoring and the industry agreed to a six-month testing period, where after the technical report would be submitted to Namport.

Gariseb said to date and after numerous requests, this technical report with proposed solutions could not yet be tabled. In the meantime, Namport is still being inundated with complaints and claims regarding damage to private property.

Previously



Port engineer, Elzevir Gelderbloem, issued a memorandum on 29 October 2018 informing contractors that Namport observed syncrolift activities that are not fully environmentally compliant, particularly in terms of spray painting and grid blasting activities.

According to Gelderbloem, this was evident in the amount of pollution and overspray occurring inside and outside the syncrolift premises. To ensure the aforementioned matters are addressed, Namport required from all contractors engaging in spray painting and grid blasting activities at the syncrolift, to erect industry approved scaffolding with side netting at own cost.

Back then Gelderbloem warned that failure to adhere to these requirements would result in a contractors' access to the site being withdrawn. “The dock master will inspect all scaffolding structures and sheeting before any work commences. In addition, spray painting and grid blasting activities must be stopped during strong winds, regardless of scaffolding and side netting.” Gelderbloem also said Namport would apply a pollution tariff to those found not adhering to the new requirements. “Such a fine could amount to approximately N$14 000 for the discovery and presence of dust particles in sea water.”

However, contractors accused Namport of adding additional charges to costs. They questioned who would pay for the service and expressed the opinion that the area belongs to Namport and the port authority should carry the responsibility of acquiring the scaffolding and netting. They also said it would take a considerable amount of time to erect scaffolding, which will impact available space in the syncrolift area and lead to a reduction of vessels that can be accommodated for repairs. “A vessel is allowed a maximum of 12 days in the syncrolift base. Stop-starting work due to wind and weather conditions will impact work performance and create a backlog. This will lead to penalties and vessel owners would think twice before using the syncrolift in Walvis Bay.” The contractors also reasoned that the syncrolift is located in a heavy industrial area. “It was the first business to be located there and this is the case for a particular reason. Other businesses followed and are well aware this is a heavy industrial area.”

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