Namibia Economist (Windhoek)

Namibia: Ohorongo Cement to Build New St Helena Airport

Ohorongo Cement was recently awarded a 3 year contract by South African construction giant, Basil Read, to supply cement for the construction of the new international airport on Atlantic island, St Helena.

Last week, Ohorongo Cement signed an agreement with Basil Read to supply cement for the building of the St Helena Airport project as announced in a press release issued by Ohorongo. The supply agreement was preceded by an on-site visit and inspection of Basil Read engineers to familiarise themselves with the quality and production capacity at the Ohorongo plant near Otjiwarongo.

The Basil Read team returned satisfied that the Ohorongo plant has the capacity to manufacture the required volume of cement to specification. This aspect is crucial for Basil Read to meet project specifications and demands. The contract to design, build and operate an airport on the island of St Helena was awarded to Basil Read in November last year and is funded by the British government.

Construction is estimated to take place over a forty eight month period and the project is said to include a 1850m long concrete runway plus taxiway and apron to cater for aircraft up to the size of an Airbus A319-100 and Boeing 737-700.

As part of the project, a 8 million mÂ' bulk rockfill with 750m x 2m reinforced concrete culvert and attenuation dam must be constructed to ensure drainage and landing safety. Other elements of the airport consist of a terminal and combined building of 3500mÂ' with supporting infrastructure, and Air Traffic Control tower, navigational aids, and aerodrome ground lighting. Finally, Basil Read must complete a bulk fuel installation for 6 million liters of diesel, petroleum and aviation fuel as well as a 14km airport access road. The entire project together with related logistics is valued at an estimated N$2.5 billion.

In a written response from Ohorongo, Carina Sowden, Marketing and Sales Support Assistant said that Ohorongo products meet the highest international standards and "thus we are very proud to be given the chance by a company like Basil Read to export our excess capacity cement to other markets."

Johan Burger, Sales, Marketing & Logistics Manager of Ohorongo said "Ohorongo is very excited about supplying cement to this project and we are very happy that Basil Read afforded us this opportunity." According to a statement issued by Ohorongo, one of the reasons why Basil Read decided to sign the agreement with Ohorongo Cement is due to logistical convenience "which makes the process easier" as stated by Graham Temlett, GM of Basil Read for the St Helena Airport Project.

"Of course the impressive operating modern plant, the high quality of the product reflected in the certification and specifications of Ohorongo Cement, and the necessary quality procedures and controls that are implemented during the manufacturing process, also impressed us, making the decision even easier," said Temlett.

The cement will be exported in 1½ ton bulk bags packed into 20ft containers, by means of a 3000 ton vessel, which will operate between St Helena and Walvis Bay port on a three week cycle. Temlett said "The problem we had to overcome, is that the island does not have a jetty for the vessel to berth."

"However, now that Basil Read has constructed a temporary jetty and installed a 40 ton crane onto its chartered vessel, these enable the landing craft vessel to offload directly onto St Helena Island."

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