DURBAN – The DA is urging government to urgently deal with the capacity at the Durban Harbour. DA KZN Spokesperson on Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Heinz de Boer, said the July unrest and recent blockade of the N3 will, in time, pale in comparison to the economic losses our country will face if the Durban Harbour capacity issues are not swiftly dealt with.
De Boer says whereas the N3 blockade is economic sabotage, the ongoing failure to deal with the port congestion is crippling the KwaZulu-Natal economy.
“New information from various logistics stakeholders points to government dragging its feet in expanding and modernising the container terminal. This has led to container ships now skipping Durban Harbour,” he said.
Heinz said the province is being side-lined by shipping companies who are fed up with constant delays at anchorage, a lack of working modern infrastructure and a road network unable to accommodate the logistics sector.
The Durban Harbour and associated logistics remains KZN’s biggest GDP driver, and a critical link to economic activity in Gauteng.
“This triple whammy of civil unrest, N3 blockades and a failing port cannot be allowed to continue. Nor can the lack of crime intelligence which is failing our country and ruining our economy.
“High-level inter-governmental co-operation between the security, economic development and transport authorities must lead to securing the N3 and also making relatively moderate changes to the harbour, which will lead to getting the Port back in optimal form,” de Boer said.
Last Friday, police arrested 12 truckers in connection with a massive blockade on the N3. Traffic, in the vicinity of Van Reenen’s Pass stood still for most of the day.
KZN SAPS spokesperson, Brigadier Jay Naicker, said the drivers were charged for contravention of the Criminal Law Amendment Act – infrastructure contravention, intimidation, economic sabotage as well as contravention of the Road Traffic Act.
They have appeared in the Ladysmith Magistrate’s Court.
“The matter has been remanded to December 13. All the suspects were remanded in custody and bail is being opposed,” he said.
Commenting on the blockade, CEO of Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry NPC Palesa Phili, said continuous congestion, road closures and concerns of safety along the N3 are factors that create uncertainty and delays in freight turnarounds times; creating additional costs for businesses.
According to eThekwini Municipality Durban EDGE, it is estimated that when the logistics sector is not fully operational – due to torching of trucks, and blocking of key corridors such as N3, N2 and M7 – it loses R800 million in GVA per month or R13.7m per day.