Poised for growth as plans fall into place

Posted On Tuesday, 11 June 2002 10:01 Published by
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Vital to make city investor-friendly

AN ESTIMATED R12bn worth of investments are scheduled to come on line in Durban over the next year, and the city has never before been as poised for growth as it is today.

Upgrades to the port, both through commitments from the SA National Ports Authority and SA Port Operations, will pump R3,3bn into bringing it to worldclass levels.

Despite the port of Durban being the busiest in Africa and responsible for 70% of SA's containerised traffic, essential investment in infrastructure has not been forthcoming and congestion problems and poorly functioning equipment have been commonplace.

However, the Port of Durban Development 2005 Project is expected to alleviate these issues. The vital upgrades took another step forward recently with the awarding of a R270m contract to construct new berths. A joint venture between Grinaker-LTA, Interbeton and Bafokeng Civil Works has undertaken to finish the work, which includes reclaiming 20ha of land, within 17 months.

The long-awaited Point waterfront development has been boosted with the unveiling of a R1bn city-led project, known as Shaka Island. Conceived nearly 20 years ago, the waterfront development had failed to materialise.

Now, the Durban city council, in partnership with the Development Bank of Southern Africa and Citibank, has set out plans to tackle the project on the 16ha site at Bell's Beach in the Point precinct. Construction is due to begin within weeks and will open to tourists by 2004.

Further along the beachfront, construction on the R1,4bn Tsogo Sun casino has eventually begun. An out-of-court settlement between rival bidders Tsogo Sun and Durban Add-Ventures gave the green light to the project and it is all systems go to open the casino, retail and related infrastructure by December.

Phase two, with cinemas, food court, another retail component and the promenades, will open next July, while the hotel and adrenaline rides are scheduled to open in December 2005.

The Suncoast Casino and Entertainment World is the biggest single investment ever undertaken on the Durban beachfront. It is being fast-tracked, with R2,5m pumped into the KwaZulu-Natal economy each day.

Sun International opened a temporary casino, Sugar Mill, and is awaiting final approval for changes to the permanent R870m structure at Umdloti, to be opened in December 2004.

Another public-private partnership has built the R1bn River Horse Valley business estate in Effingham, north of Durban.

On the La Lucia-Umhlanga Ridge area, more than R4bn has been invested since Moreland opened up the land for development several years ago.

This does not detract from the massive boost the R1,4bn Gateway shopping centre has given the region. Gordon Hibbert, Moreland MD, says the challenge in the year ahead is attracting another R12bn in investments to the region.

Making Durban investorfriendly includes turning around perceptions of crime and grime and securing government infrastructural investment in economic nodes. These will be the key elements in making Durban the economic hub of the east coast.

Business Day

Publisher: Business Day
Source: Business Day

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