Letter: Harbouring doubt over port

The article “Grand plan for people’s port” (The Herald, October 26) and countless previous reports, going back years, about how near PE is to getting rid of the tank farm and (eyes)ore-loading berth refer.

Here’s a truth about this, or any similar project. Before we can commence to dismantle the existing facilities, new facilities (in this case at Coega/ Nqura) must be up and running. Here is a list, which is not exhaustive, of activities which must take place to achieve this – resolution by the authorities/ government, appointment of consultants and allocation of budget; feasibility study/ environmental impact analysis; design, cost estimate, guarantee of funding (assuming the “green light” is given); tender/ procurement process; appointment of contractors; construction (this should include a dedicated rail line from Nqura to the manganese deposit at Hotazel, Northern Cape – in itself a huge, complex project); commissioning and handover of the new facility to the client/ operator (Transnet/ harbour authority?).

In a project of the scale and complexity envisaged, each one of the above steps may take years, noting that some steps would be politically charged, especially in view of procurement irregularities, BEE requirements etc – since, in particular, the “arms deal” of 1999 has not yet been resolved.

My simple question is this – where are we on the front end of the timeline for the execution of this project? To someone involved with the project I extend an invitation to lunch in PE, when we can discuss the matter convivially. In order to qualify and to avoid responses from machines, he or she must correctly answer the following question:

What is “special” about the following phrase – “a man a plan a canal Panama”? (Hint – the answer is NOT Ferdinand de Lesseps).

Quickly please, I am running out of time to see the “people’s port” a reality!

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