Huge waves crash against Kalk Bay harbour wall. Picture: Brenton Geach

Cape Town - Thirteen fishing harbours in the province are set for multimillion-rand facelifts over the next few years to develop the ports, create jobs and attract tourists to boost the local economy.

The harbours include Hout Bay, where unemployment is a problem, and Kalk Bay.

The cost of the first two phases of the project, to be carried out from this year to 2018, is estimated at R395 million and involves plans to redesign harbours to make them more productive and pedestrian-friendly.

On Saturday details about the upgrades were revealed at an event in the city centre hosted by the Department of Public Works.

Residents from fishing villages were among those who attended and while some welcomed the upgrades, they said their communities needed urgent and long-overdue help.

The 13 harbours to be developed are at Hout Bay, St Helena Bay, Hermanus, Pepper Bay, Saldanha Bay, Gansbaai, Lambert’s Bay, Kalk Bay, Laaiplek Bay, Gordon’s Bay, Arniston, Struisbaai and Stilbaai.

The director-general of the Department of Public Works Mziwonke Dlabantu, said critical projects that would be carried out at the harbours included repairing and upgrading slipways, dredging harbour basins, removing sunken vessels and installing security measures.

Plans at specific harbours involve:

* Transforming a section of the ramp at Hout Bay harbour into a multi-use area for recreational fishing, recreational boat launching and small-scale fishing. A section would also be redeveloped for tourism and a new fishing jetty would be constructed to provide extra mooring. Another area for fish processing facilities is also planned.

* Re-organising the main operation area in Kalk Bay harbour to make space for a dedicated facility for small-scale fishing operations. The plans include “ice production, cold storage and the processing facilities”. An additional berthing area would also be created, as well as improved vehicle access and pedestrian walkways that linked the harbour to the village.

* Boosting Hermanus harbour into a prime tourist destination. Prime land overlooking the harbour will be developed for various tourist-related businesses. A mooring is also planned to accommodate extra fixed moorings and small leisure craft.

* Moving buildings from inside Arniston harbour on to its boundary to make space for activities including boat launching and small-scale fishing. A section of the harbour would also be upgraded to create a pedestrian promenade and a new police station has been proposed for the area.

* Developing a hub around the slipway at the Saldanha harbour for boat-building and repair. A node was also planned for the centre of the harbour so that those working there had access to amenities and services.

* Relocating industrial fishing and fish processing at Gansbaai to an existing new section to create space for small-scale fishing ventures. The creation of new access points to the harbour would allow visitors and residents to move more easily between it and surrounding developments.

On Saturday Dlabantu said 10 other small harbours around the country, that had not been officially declared as fishing harbours, would also be considered for upgrades.

These included Hondeklipbaai in the Northern Cape and Port St Johns and Port Grosvenor on the Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape.

Dlabantu’s presentation showed the department was under severe pressure to develop harbours.

It said three years ago the department had commissioned consultants to compile spatial and economic development frameworks for the 13 harbours. This process was completed last year.

During a question and answer session at the event, Mymoena Poggenpoel of Kalk Bay said the fishing community there had been suffering for about two decades.

“It upsets me that people don’t know (how long) we’ve been struggling to get the harbours right. This is a process that’s been long overdue. Please, I want to ask you, and I hope I don’t burst into tears, don’t make us sink into poverty even more and more,” she said.

The commencement date of the projects at the harbours was not divulged on Saturday.

Weekend Argus