Costs at Coega mounting

Posted On Monday, 15 October 2001 03:01 Published by eProp Commercial Property News
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THE cost of building a deepwater port at Coega near Port Elizabeth is rising steadily as the rand depreciates against the dollar,with Portnet now estimating a first-phase cost of up to R2,7bn against R1,65bn expected last year.

Jeff RadebeThe Port of Ngqura, which is due to be accompanied by an industrial development zone, has drawn criticism regarding its feasibility and other issues.

There has recently been a storm of allegations regarding its viability, environmental sustainability and the effect on communities as well as allegations of irregularities around the company driving the project, the Coega Development Corporation.

State-owned harbours group Portnet has made it clear that feasibility studies have confirmed the viability of the project. The organisation has, however, been forced to go to its parent company Transnet for more money to cover the escalating cost of building the initial phase of the development.

Siyabonga Gama, Portnet's port authority division CEO, said the board of Transnet had, in principle, approved the additional funding. 'About half of the project's budget is imported costs, which have been pushed up as the rand devalues.' Portnet had also decided to increase the depth of the port to 16m from the originally envisaged 14m to accommodate larger cargo ships. This had also raised the price tag.

Gama said Public Enterprises Minister Jeff Radebe was expected to finalise details of the port and make a proclamation this month. In the interim, Portnet was moving ahead with the preliminary work needed for building the new port.

A further R3bn has been budgeted for extra infrastructure, depending on tenant demand. The port will run adjacent to the planned industrial development zone which will include an R800m container terminal. The UK's P&O Nedlloyd-TCI Infrastructure was named as the preferred private sector partner to develop the terminal.

The Coega Development Corporation recently issued a 35-page document countering the spate of allegations around the project. The corporation defended its work and said the project was on track but awaiting the finalisation of several issues.

These included feasibility studies by a range of potential investors, the demarcation of the proposed industrial development zone and the awarding of the licence to operate the zone.

'We have no reason whatsoever to believe that there are fatal flaws that may torpedo any of these processes,' it said. While the corporation did not wish to pre-empt decisions to be taken by the relevant authorities, it was confident that in each instance the 'outcome will be a positive one'.

The conceptualisation of the Coega project as an industrial deepwater port was seen as a catalyst for economic growth in poverty-stricken Eastern Cape.

Portnet's economic justification for building the port was recently backed up by an independent evaluation of the development by the Maritime Education Research and Information Technology group.

Last modified on Thursday, 26 June 2014 09:33

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