Harbour issues need resolution

THE Port Alfred small boat harbour has a history of some of the most convoluted land and lease deals in Ndlambe, and the controversies that have arisen from these have gone on far too long without resolution.

During former Ward 7 councillor Louise Swanepoel’s terms as councillor she tried to tackle some of the issues, and motivate council to do the same, but a councillor can only do so much.

The harbour remains a municipal asset for the benefit of all residents, but the municipality has been sitting on the sidelines during the lengthy squabble between Pamcor, the Small Boat Harbour Company (SBHC) and various companies owned by the main sub-lessee, Stuart Boucher.

Residents may remember that Pamcor, owned by Royal Alfred Marina developer Justin de Wet Steyn, was originally the main leaseholder for the harbour and surrounding areas, as developing and maintaining the harbour became part of his obligations when he was allowed to develop the marina.

The lease was for 20 years, at a nominal R1 a year, with an option to renew for another 20 years, so the lease lasts until 2028.

In 1993, De Wet Steyn, with the consent of the municipality, sublet the entire harbour area to Boucher’s company Halyards Properties, and the lease included all of Pamcor’s rights and obligations. Boucher was one of the original owners of the Halyards Hotel.

Then in 1996, the municipality sold erf 5203 in the harbour to Boucher for R100 000. It was Boucher’s proposal to develop this erf, more than ten years later, that sparked a lawsuit brought by Pamcor, but funded by the SBHC. River Hotels later joined the applicants in their case against Boucher’s companies.

The case has centred on whether Boucher has the right, according to the deeds of sale and transfer, to build holiday flats on this prime piece of land.

Pamcor, the SBHC and River Hotels focus on the first part of a clause that restricts any development of the erf to supplementing the existing accommodation capacity of the Halyards Hotel, while Boucher relies on the second part of that clause which allows other buildings approved by the municipality.

Thus far, council has declined to consider the proposal, seemingly awaiting the outcome of the parties’ legal battle.

Although not part of their court application, the directors of the SBHC have also accused Boucher of making a profit from renting property to the Tahoe Spur, and not making a contribution to the harbour as made by the other stakeholders.

At present, this seems to be a battle between a few big men, but the outcome could affect everyone who uses the harbour.

– Jon Houzet

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