Politicians back EL port expansion plan

Posted On Thursday, 24 May 2007 02:00 Published by eProp Commercial Property News
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Port expansion plan for East London is getting the support of Eastern Cape politicians

Infrastructure IndustryThe proposed R5 billion port expansion plan for East London is getting the support of Eastern Cape politicians.

Eastern Cape Premier Nosimo Balindlela, the MECs for Transport and Economic Development and Environmental Affairs, and the Amathole District Municipality, have publicly stated their support for expanding the East London harbour.

Buffalo City Municipality's Alderman John Badenhorst, who chairs the port steering committee (PSC) that was formed by Mayor Zintle Peter in October, said winning the support of major Eastern Cape stakeholders was "a major step forward".

"The first stage is finished and that is to get the province behind us. The next stage is to engage with Transnet and the Minister of Trade and Industry (Mandisa Mpahlwa)," he said.

The PSC's ultimate goal will be to push the project onto the national agenda and, hopefully, into Finance Minister Trevor Manuel's budget.

Badenhorst was confident that the port expansion could get national support within the next four years, although no clear timeframe had been set for when the harbour should be expanded.

At the implementation of the PLC, Badenhorst said the committee intended making an "authoritative" input at the State President's lekgotla, where final Asgisa investment decisions would be made.

In a recent interview, however, he said they were "misinformed" about the lekgotla which was actually the President's International Investment Council meeting that took place in Alicedale earlier this month.

Instead, the PSC has decided to embark on a mission to get political buy-in regarding the proposed plan directly from the relevant national departments.

Badenhorst believes the appointment of the National Ports Regulator (NPR), which is chaired by businesswoman Gloria Serobe, is another coup for the project.

Serobe is also on the board of the newly launched Asgisa EC.

This body will be tasked with handling forestry expansions and the building of a massive dam and irrigation scheme in the former Transkei.

"I believe (the port expansion) is an ideal Asgisa project," Badenhorst said.

One of the stumbling blocks of the proposed project is that the deep harbour port being built at Coega, about 300km south of East London, would be perceived to be in direct competition to the project.

"Within the province we had no resistance because of Coega. These are two distinct places and they are not in competition. Coega has a role to play and is doing it," Badenhorst said.

He said most developed countries had major ports situated close to each other.

Looking at future tasks, Badenhorst said a feasibility study needed to be done in collaboration with Transnet to give clear direction to the expansion plan.

The municipality's feasibility study will be an extension of an initial study, dubbed the Port Expansion Business Case, which was co-ordinated by the city's economic leaders.

The document showed that the expansion had the potential to secure R15 billion in investments and create 60000 new jobs.

But if it failed to go ahead, it could place 16500 jobs in jeopardy and result in a R7 billion loss in existing investments.

The expansion plan includes deepening the harbour, creating additional container handling space and introducing gantry cranes.

The harbour's turning circle will also be increased.

 

Last modified on Saturday, 02 November 2013 13:39

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