Coast KZN

07 Jun 2018

Port mulls over Durban harbour tower replacement

Zainul Dawood (Daily News) Picture: The rotating steel cowl that surrounds the Millennium Tower was removed. It was badly damaged in a storm that struck Durban South in October 10, 2017. Transnet is considering redesigning the tower. (Picture by Terry Hutson)

The Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) is evaluating the best concepts for the replacement of the cowl that surrounded the Millennium Tower on the Bluff at the entrance to the Durban Harbour.

The cowl is a rotating, steel structure that encircled the tower and gave it its architectural shape.

The cowl was extensively damaged during the massive storm in Durban on October 10, 2017.

Port Engineer Malefetsane Setaka said the cowl was designed to rotate with the direction of the wind but it had not been operational for some time. The storm, he said, had only exacerbated existing structural challenges. The tower also experienced other major structural damage, including damage to its wind vane and major leaks.

“A decision was taken to remove the cowl. Transnet National Ports Authority is evaluating the best concepts for its replacement because the previous structure, while aesthetically attractive, posed numerous maintenance challenges,” Setaka said.

Captain Justin Adams, the deputy harbour master of vessel traffic services at the Port of Durban, said Port Control employees were moved to temporary premises elsewhere because the building was deemed unsafe.

“A standby port control room was set up at the Durmarine building, using all the same technology including radars and vessel traffic services log. Initial repairs have been completed and employees moved back into their offices in the tower in April,” Adams said.

Don Albert of Sound Space Design told the Daily News that he had presented the Port Authority with a number of new structural options in May.

“They are deliberating on the options and will be making a decision soon,” Albert said.

According to the Sound Space Design website, the tower acts as a wind vane, and the cowl revolved in response to wind direction.

A yellow collar on the central spire moves up and down as an indication of the changing tide. A series of pulsating strobes indicates whether the tide is incoming or outgoing. At night, colours within the cowl change according to an algorithm driven by the tide, wind-direction and humidity.

This luminosity, combined with the red and green signal lights on the tower, provided Durban with an ever-changing spectacle.