Business welcomes port plan – but condemns 2020 relocation date
Days after Transnet unveiled its plans to transform the Port of Port Elizabeth into a people’s mecca with retail stores, restaurants and a maritime museum, the business community has expressed disappointment over yet another delay in moving the manganese facility.
Last week, the parastatal announced its vision for the proposed Port Elizabeth marina and tabled its plans at the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality’s economic development, tourism and agriculture portfolio committee meeting.
Part of Transnet’s plan is to push back the deadline for moving the ore dumps to 2020 while committing to moving its fuel tank facility to the Port of Ngqura in 2019.
But Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber president Ian Nicholls said the facility was a hindrance that was holding back the tourism potential of the region as well as that of the oceans economy.
Transnet’s plan for a port with a service-driven harbour with added attractions including a ship repair precinct has been on the cards for many years, with the first date set to move the beachfront eyesore going back to 2014.
This was later pushed back to 2016-2017, then moved again to 2019 and now to 2020.
Nicholls said although the chamber welcomed the water front development plans, especially the marina element and proposed retail and leisure activities, it was disappointed that the deadline for moving the manganese storage facility had been pushed back yet again.
“The slippages are unacceptable because this holds back the development of our entire beachfront, and our region’s economy,” Nicholls said.
“Unlocking this piece of land has been an urgent appeal championed by the business chamber and other role players through extensive lobbying for some time.”
However, he welcomed the transparency with which Transnet had communicated its waterfront plans.
Port manager Rajesh Dana said it was hoped a sod-turning event in January 2019 would signal the start of the project.
The transformation of the port would include the expansion of cargo – handling services and capitalising on the growth in the ship repair industry.
Dana urged the municipality to expedite any municipal approvals that would be required.
Requests for proposals will be put out in December next year.