Durban's dig-out port makes waves

Posted On Wednesday, 18 April 2012 02:00 Published by
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Yes you heard right, the speculation is over, the deal is through, Transnet has bought the old Durban Airport site for R1.8 billion

But that’s nothing compared to the purported investment of an estimated R100 billion over the next 25 years for the vast engineering job that will employ 20 000 people to accomplish it’s task.

The plan is for Transnet to create a whole new terminal with sixteen container berths, five automotive berths and four liquid bulk berths.  To give you an idea of the size of the operation, the port of Durban has the following Terminals - Durban Container Terminal, Africa's busiest(seven berths), Pier 1 Container Terminal(eight berths) , Multi-Purpose Terminal (also known as the City Terminal- 14 berths), Durban Car Terminal (three berths), and Maydon Wharf Terminal (fifteen berths). (Source KwaZulu-Natal Dept. of Transport)

The whole development is intended to reach completion by 2037. But for those who like instant gratification, the first phase should be finished by 2019 at a cost of R50 billion. That causes one to wonder though , if it takes seven years to spend R50 billion and the project is due to continue until 2037 then that’s another 17 years to spend the other  R50 billion. Interesting, watch this space.

This news comes on the back of the governments R21 billion infrastructure upgrade for the Durban port over the next seven years.  The dig-out port though will ensure the doubling of the capacity for Durban as a container port, enforcing it as the largest in Africa. Durban already moves67 percent of the country's container traffic flows through its port.

The Independent on Saturday quote Safmarine's Southern Africa cluster manager, Jonathan Horn, as saying that a bigger, more effective port will help shipping lines such as Safmarine, improve transit times, service reliability and vessel turnaround, while offering the benefits of increased efficiencies and flexibility.

The result of the combined existing port and dug-out extension is that Kwazulu-Natal in particular and South Africa in general has a strategic asset, “an effective platform for forging trade linkages between provinces within the country, with neighbouring states and the rest of the world - particularly the Asian and South American subcontinents - offering the province considerable investment spin-offs and opportunities.” The Daily New quoted Ndabezinhle Sibiya, spokesman for KZN Premier ZweliMkhize.

The implication for property in the area is huge. Already land sales are booming in the south Durban basin. The south Durban basin is already the second largest contributor to the country’s economy. Gauteng is the largest, making up 34 percent of GDP, and KZN is just under 17 percent of GDP.Transnet's dig-out port indicates a catalyst for economic development for the city, the province and the country.

The Independent on Saturday quotes Keith Chetty, a commercial real estate manager at Lighthouse property group as saying: "The demand for commercial and industrial property has increased dramatically in recent times in and around the current port."

Residents living adjacent to the old Airport would be hoping to get a pretty penny for their homes especially since land is in short supply around the old airport area. One may ponder what will become of the old Clairwood Racecourse site.

Not everyone is dancing for joy though, business owners in the path of the expansion for one. There may be a need for some PR damage control by Transnet with locals too.  The Independent interviewed several ratepayer organisations in the area and there seems to be a definite mistrust and disappointment at the lack of communication form Transnet. A point has been raised that some communities in the area were the product of forced removals during the apartheid era, a lack of transparency by Transnet and local government could result in some short to medium term instability in the area.

The municipality needs to inform residents that the area surrounding the old airport will be rezoned industrial to accommodate the expected demand for land once the port construction begins.

There is no doubt that one of the most important spinoffs from the dig-out port will be jobs. In addition to the 20 000 direct jobs claimed, an additional 27 000 ‘indirect’ jobs are asserted with 12 000 sustainable, operational jobs which will remain upon completion for the project.

There are naturally pros and cons, but there’s no doubt the Dig-Out Port is fait accompli and together with the new Dube Port and Richard’s bay port, the KZN coastline and its arterials are likely to be a very busy place for some time to come. Edward Gibbon wrote "The winds and the waves are always on the side of the ablest navigators." Let’s hope Transnet has done its homework.


Publisher: eProp
Source: Var

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