The first Damen CSD in South Africa
Arend van de Wetering
“Important may be an understatement – dredging is vital for the existence of this country,” Arend van de Wetering replies when asked about the role of the dredging industry in South Africa. This is by no means an empty statement; especially when looking back at the severe drought that affected the country in 2018, which resulted in the South African Government declaring a national state of disaster. “We experienced severe water scarcity last year, not only in Cape Town, but all over.”
Dammed reservoirs are a significant source of drinking water in South Africa. However, with little or no maintenance dredging being carried out in the past, a large proportion of dams in South Africa are silted up. “There are thousands of waste water treatment dams and ponds all over South Africa,” he adds. “And because it is no longer allowed to simply create a new dam when the previous dam is full, these now all need dredging.”
Mr Van de Wetering is Director of Dredging Africa, a company founded in 2015 to provide inland dredging services for dam maintenance, environmental clean-up and mining projects in Southern Africa. In its short history, Dredging Africa has built up a sizeable list of completed projects. These have primarily involved dam maintenance contracts – sludge and vegetation removal – for water users’ associations, mining and oil & gas companies.
Naturally, the company’s equipment portfolio matches its contract requirements, including four horizontal auger cutter dredgers, numerous long reach excavators and various auxiliary equipment such as floating pipelines and booster pumps.
A first for South Africa
In summer 2018 a new vessel – a Damen Cutter Suction Dredger 250 – was added to the company’s fleet list. Talking about the purchase of what is actually the first Damen CSD to operate in South Africa, Mr Van de Wetering says: “We firmly believe in the quality of Damen products and chose the CSD 250 to enter the cutter suction market in South Africa and in neighbouring countries in Southern Africa.”
The new vessel, named Indlovu (Zulu for elephant), has had a busy work schedule since delivery. Its first contract was to dredge fluvial sand for the construction industry. After that, it was deployed on a canal dredging project.
The vessel has excellent productivity for its size; with the pump being able to handle up to 1,000 m3 of mixture per hour.
On to the next job
The fact that the Damen CSD 250 is easily disassembled and reassembled means that transporting the Indlovu to the next job site is a straightforward affair.
“For short distances we disassemble into dredger, ladder, wheelhouse and spud poles,” he explains. “The dredger – meaning the main pontoon with side pontoons attached – and wheelhouse are loaded onto one lowbed truck. We use a second lowbed truck for the ladder, spud poles, pipes and floats. It is simple, fast and efficient. A complete move, including disassembly and offloading at the new site, is done in one day. For longer journeys into neighbouring countries we will use three containers.”
Damen provided initial vessel (dis)assembly training: “The dredger was assembled by Wilco van de Pol from Damen Shipyards Cape Town. He did an excellent job and we were very satisfied with his knowledge.”
For Dredging Africa, the expansion of its fleet with a Damen CSD 250 not only reflects the company’s ambitions for the future, but also its role in national water management. “We see a huge responsibility to actively be involved in, and lead the way towards, water security and the preservation of our environment.
And, with the best equipment available for the job, with good teams of personnel and sound civil engineering knowledge, we are on the path to becoming the number one dredging company in South Africa.