Transnet Port Terminals East London demonstrates importance of sustainability

MAY 23, 2016

The beginning of May 2016 saw some harsh realities being faced by the residents and businesses of East London, who had suffered a severe water outage due to a failure detected in one of the city’s main water pipelines.

During the water outage, some businesses and schools shut down and hospitals switched to using their own supplies, with tanker top-ups. Every city service, institution, business and home throughout East London and surrounds was affected – including Transnet Port Terminals.

However, Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) East London experienced minimal disruptions to operations thanks to one of their innovative sustainability measures in place. One of the many investments made by the terminal for sustainability that proved invaluable was a rainwater harvesting system.

The system captures rainwater using gutters and down pipes, additional underground piping, and gravity fed 6 x 5,000 litres water tanks that are used to store the water for use in the CPO building. Each year the CPO Building roof collects around 379 000 litres of water and all this water goes to storm water channels and some as runs-offs resulting in soil erosion and sediment deposition.

According to East London’s Terminal Manager, Wandisa Vazi, sustainability is a key performance driver within TPT.

“The recent water outage in our city reinforced the need for us to be vigilant about implementing initiatives for water saving and recycling. Our rainwater harvesting initiative demonstrated why this type of approach and vision for sustainability is so important, with the potential impact of this type of crisis to our operations being negated as a result of our fore-planning,” stated Vazi.

The 379 000 litres of water that would normally be wasted is captured and used for flushing toilets, toilet basins and kitchen sinks. With this initiative in place, the CPO Building will cut use of municipal water supply by 70%, thereby also incurring cost savings on East London Terminal’s annual metered water consumption.

Accoding to Siya Mhlaluka, General Manager of TPT’s Eastern Cape Port Terminals, South Africa is among the 30 driest nations in the world, currently classified as a ‘water stressed’ country and the country’s demand for water will exceed supply by 2025, if nothing is done to supplement current water resources.

“As a responsible business and operator, it is our duty to deliver sustainable development outcomes for the well-being of future generations. This rainwater harvesting solution demonstrates our commitment to environmental performance and integrity, while providing an added benefit of supporting the objectives of the Transnet’s Sustainable Development Outcome: Environmental Stewardship and the National Development Plan.

"As one of the three pillars of sustainability, TPT has a well-entrenched environmental philosophy and the appropriate management structures to support this philosophy. Receiving the highest level of attention throughout the company, TPT is continually striving to improve its environmental, financial and social performance. Dedicated management forums meet on a regular basis to track the progress of the company against its sustainability targets,” concluded Mhlaluka.