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City of Cape Town seeks to relocate cargo port to Saldanha

Aerial View of the Cape Town Harbour and National Ports Authority. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency

Aerial View of the Cape Town Harbour and National Ports Authority. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency

Published Mar 26, 2021


Cape Town – City of Cape Town’s mayco member for transport Felicity Purchase, said a meeting has been requested with Portnet discuss the proposed relocation of the Cape Town cargo port.

Purchase said that the current location of the Cape Town container port – where high winds are often preventing or delaying activity – is hampering local economy growth.

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“I have requested a meeting with Portnet, the National Ports Authority, to discuss a proposal from the City of Cape Town to investigate and consider alternative options for a container port in the eco-region, and to seriously reconsider investment in expanding the port at its current location.

“Saldanha already has an Industrial Development Zone (IDZ), plus there is another IDZ close at hand in Atlantis.

“Given that the City is considering these locations for the development of local industry, it makes sense to have an adjacent cargo port,” Purchase said.

“This would be of considerable benefit to business, the local communities, and the economic growth of our eco-region with subsequent job creation and other indirect advantages.”

Cape Town is well-known for southeaster wind that often blows at gale force for days on end in summer.

Capetonians frequently endure the Cape Doctor that gets rid of polluted air and covers Table Mountain in a cloth.

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Purchase said that many people are, however, are unaware of the significant impact the southeaster has on Cape Town’s commercial life.

“For about 70 to 80 days a year, the Table Mountain Cableway cannot operate, mainly because of the high winds.

“Indications are that due to climate change, Cape Town will face more frequent and stronger southeaster winds in future.

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“We cannot ignore the impact this will have on commercial activity, in particular that of the container dock in the heart of the Foreshore,” she said.

In recent months, high winds have prevented container vessels from berthing in the container dock.

The vessels have by-passed Cape Town altogether, which resulted in the delay of exports and imports from and into the Western Cape.

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Shipping companies and businesses dependent on the shipping industry for their income have suffered considerable financial loss, Purchase said.

“The delay in the delivery of goods has severely affected businesses working on tight delivery deadlines, not to mention the loss of working capital.”

The original harbour was built in the most protected part of Table Bay.

However, the container dock is built as an extension of the Foreshore reclamation, which faces the full force of the southeaster wind.

Transnet plans to extend the Cape Town container terminal to cater for another 1 million containers.

Purchase said that given the possible long-term change in weather conditions, however, “one has to question whether this is still a sensible and viable idea”.

“It is interesting that the major concerns of the environment impact assessment (EIA) covering the harbour expansion, were the impact on the wave flow and from where the material to fill the container wall would come.

“The impact of wind was not considered a major hindrance to the construction,” Purchase said.

“Cape Town has already been experiencing challenges catering for the heavy goods vehicle traffic trying to access the harbour during peak times.

“The question is: How will we manage an extra million containers using the container port?”

Purchase added: “It is time to reflect and reassess what needs to be done to develop Cape Town harbour for the long-term, and what is needed for sustainability and resilience.

“Future investment in expanding the cargo port cannot dare ignore the impact of climate change.

“I have requested a meeting with Portnet to discuss alternatives, among which to develop Saldanha as a cargo or container port.

“It is within an IDZ, and close to Atlantis, which also has an IDZ, and makes economic sense.“

Cape Argus

Related Topics:

City of Cape Town