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eThekwini Municipality rejects demarcation proposals that would see the airport, Cato Ridge fall under other municipalities

People walk around a busy airport

The King Shaka International Airport. A proposal before the Municipal Demarcation Board suggests that the airport should fall under the KwaDukuza Municipality. File Picture: Shelley Kjonstad African News Agency (ANA).

Published May 9, 2023


Durban - The eThekwini Metro has rejected proposals that could lead to it losing strategic portions of land which include King Shaka International Airport and the industrial area of Cato Ridge to neighbouring municipalities.

If the proposals get the green light, the airport would fall under KwaDukuza Municipality, while Cato Ridge would be incorporated into the uMgungundlovu District Municipality.

The position by the City to reject the proposals was first expressed at its executive committee level and was confirmed at the full council’s last sitting.

The report comes after the Municipal Demarcation Board called for public comment on a range of proposals regarding changes to municipal boundaries across the country.

In the report tabled at the council sitting last month, eThekwini contended that the move, if approved, would take away a sizeable rates base, leading to financial strain for the City.

In addition, the City questioned the capacity of municipalities that would be the beneficiaries of the alterations.

The report said the proposals would see areas such as King Shaka International Airport and Dube Trade Port falling to KwaDukuza Municipality, negatively affecting the surrounding communities.

In the case of Cato Ridge, the City argues that:

  • It has invested more than R2.5 billion for bulk services.
  • It has invested R1.1bn in the Cato Ridge Dry Port and Logistics hub.
  • It has a R350 million budget facility for infrastructure at the Cato Ridge Interchange.

“It is recommended that the municipal manager be granted the authority to submit to the Municipal Demarcation Board the views of the council which is to reject the proposals of the Municipal Demarcation Board,” the report said.

Dube Trade Port CEO Hamish Erskine said the implications for the proposals were unknown at the stage.

“However, the Dube Trade Port, together with the Airports Company South Africa, have made joint representations to the Demarcation Board to articulate some of the infrastructure and support services required to drive the development of the aerotropolis going forward,” he said yesterday.

DA leader in the metro Thabani Mthethwa expressed the party’s support for the City’s stance, arguing that the metro needed all the revenue it could get.

“We believe that as the only metro in KwaZulu-Natal, eThekwini is better positioned to service the areas that are being considered to be moved to other municipalities,” said Mthethwa.

He pointed out that the City had invested heavily in the earmarked areas.

IFP leader in the council Mdu Nkosi said they were also in agreement with the rejection of the proposal, as the party believed any alteration to the boundaries would see the residents in the affected communities suffering owing to the incapacity of the municipalities under which they would fall.

“King Shaka Airport has international flights landing here, and we do not want a situation where the airport will no longer be serviced because the municipality that looks after it is not capable of doing so,” he said.

He said their stance was also supported by civic groups that were objecting to the move away from eThekwini.

ANC councillor Nkosenhle Madlala also questioned KwaDukuza’s ability to run the airport, warning that such capacity is built over time.

“It does not make sense for a small town to want to run an airport of that size, considering its capability and development needs.

“The support from political parties simply demonstrate that sanity prevailed on the matter, and they were able to support the interests of eThekwini’s citizens and it is something that we appreciate,” said the councillor.

Executive director for economic development and planning at KwaDukuza Municipality, Skhumbuzo Hlongwane, said in the event that the areas they proposed to be part of the municipality were approved, they would be equal to the task of servicing them.

“The KwaDukuza Municipality is confident that it has the financial capacity and clear plan in line with its vision 2030 to ensure seamless transfer of communities, responsibilities, infrastructure, and community needs from eThekwini to KwaDukuza,” the senior manager said.

He added that the matter was a strategic goal rather than a political issue, and this was the reason it was supported by all the parties at the municipality.