Harbour minutes revealed

WITH new details emerging about the small boat harbour debacle almost every week, it seems we have barely scratched the surface of all the underlying issues which have made the harbour a hot potato.

It should raise some eyebrows this week to see the position taken by marina developer Justin de Wet Steyn that the harbour has to be run in the best interests of the marina, according to the minutes of the most recent Small Boat Harbour Company (SBHC) meeting, which were leaked to TotT.

To stress the point, De Wet Steyn said that is why the marina manager, Angus Schlemmer, was also made managing director of the small boat harbour.

Users of the harbour, like those who have boats moored there, might disagree that the marina’s interests should come first.

When asked if the harbour surely has to be run in the best interests of the people using the harbour and the town at large, Schlemmer downplayed De Wet Steyn’s statements by saying minutes did not record every word /sentiment expressed in discussion.

He further elaborated that the marina and the harbour may be administered separately but form “a harmonious whole” when viewed from a tourism perspective in terms of attracting visitors and investors to Port Alfred and generating major revenue for local government.

This might be acceptable at face value if the SBHC was responsibly handling the monies paid to it in mooring and river use fees. But as we reported a few weeks ago, the SBHC has spent R360 000 on a lawsuit against the sub-lessee of the harbour area, Stuart Boucher, and even if they win the case, there appears to be no tangible benefit for the harbour.

It is worth remembering that De Wet Steyn’s company Pamcor is the first applicant in the case against Boucher, but has allegedly contributed no money towards legal fees. Neither De Wet Steyn nor his attorney have responded to this allegation.

Also worth questioning is why the SBHC should be fighting a battle on behalf of River Hotels, if the crux of the case is about a planned development by Boucher that would pose competition to the Halyards Hotel.

The warring parties were close to a settlement, but according to the SBHC minutes, De Wet Steyn said he was not in favour of weakening River Leisure Hotels’ case.

The terms of the settlement that was on the table appear to present no prejudice to the users of the small boat harbour.

– Jon Houzet

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