1887

n Historia - An engineering debacle : the story of the Vetch harbour engineering works at Port Natal

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Abstract


In 1859 het John Vetch van die hawedepartement van die Britse Admiraliteit die tweede ingenieur geword wat gevra is om 'n antwoord te probeer vind vir die probleme by Port Natal-hawe. Vetch het dit onnodig gevind om die hawe persoonlik te besoek. Sy plan was gebaseer op inligting wat hy van Natal ontvang het en wat in sommige opsigte blatante weersprekings was. Vetch se grootse plan het dus 'n aantal ooglopende foute gehad waarvan die inkorrekte heersende windrigting, 'n aspek wat van die uiterste belang in die beplanning van hawe-ingange gedurende die 19de eeu was, die ernstigste was. Luitenant-goewerneur Scott was onverstoord of onkundig oor die foute. Onder sy invloed is die plan oorhaastig deur die Natalse regering aanvaar en 'n lening vir die konstruksiewerk is in Engeland verkry.
Probleme is reg van die begin ervaar. Teen 1863 was dit duidelik dat die hawewerke in 'n algehele warboel was. Die kontrakteur is bankkrot verklaar en dit was duidelik dat die Natalse regering min kans gehad het om hulle verliese te herwin. Die plan is uiteindelik geheel en al geskrap. Dit sou baie jare and veel politieke maneuvers kos voordat werk weer by die Port Natalse hawe onderneem sou word.

In 1859 John Vetch of the harbour department of the British Admiralty became the second engineer to be assigned the job of finding an answer to the problems at Port Natal harbour. Vetch declined to visit the harbour site personally and his plans were based on information which he had received from Natal; information which was in some respects blatantly contradictory. Vetch's grandiose plan thus had a number of glaring mistakes, of which the incorrect prevailing wind direction, an aspect of utmost importance in determining harbour entrances during the 19th century, was the most grave. Lieutenant-Governor Scott was unperturbed or ignorant of the mistakes. Under his influence the plan was accepted over-hastily by the Natal government and a loan was procured in England for the construction of the works.


Problems were encountered right from the start. By 1863 it was evident that the harbour works were in complete chaos. The contractor was proclaimed bankrupt and it soon became clear that the Natal government had little chance of recovering its losses. The plan was finally scrapped completely. It would take many years and much political manoeuvring before work was again undertaken at Port Natal harbour.

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/content/hist/42/1/EJC37889
1997-05-01
2016-12-03
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