Somerset Hospital site set to go on sale

Time of article published Nov 30, 2006

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By Philda Essop

The province has not "committed" the prime Somerset Hospital site to Dubai World, the new owners of the V&A Waterfront, says Western Cape Premier Ebrahim Rasool.

Addressing a press conference after his trade and investment trip to India, Turkey and the Middle East, Rasool said: "Let me say unequivocally there has been no such promise, commitment or anything like that.

"It was mentioned by Dubai World, the new owners of the Waterfront, that you cannot look at the Waterfront development and look at the development of the Green Point Stadium without looking at what lies in between, which is Somerset Hospital.

"We told them that that was our most strategic and prized possession and that even if they have the most brilliant idea and the most money, any attempt by them would have to go through very tight procedures in a competitive bid, as opposed to a promise by provincial government to give it to them.

"I have heard some of the rumours that have done the rounds and I want to squash them almost immediately," Rasool said.

Western Cape Transport and Public Works MEC Marius Fransman said that his department had been approached by three developers: a Western Cape developer, a national retail company and the new owners of the Waterfront. But the property would be disposed of by open tender.

Rasool said a "massive economic injection" for the province was secured during the trip, which also included visits to Dubai and Saudi Arabia.

Deals were sealed for new hotels and resorts for the Waterfront and a cruise liner terminal and monorail system for the CBD, among others.

Conditions were favourable to attract tourism, trade and investment, Rasool said.

- Middle East countries sought new destinations for trade, tourism and investment in the post-9/11 world.

- Other factors in South Africa's favour were the 2010 World Cup and the purchase of the V&A Waterfront by Dubai World and others.

"This deal showed that this province is good for trade, tourism and investment," he said. "When Dubai did that, it was almost like the floodgates were opening."

Concrete returns included deals signed in India relating to film, fashion, tourism, renewable energy and infrastructure, the hospitality industry, call centres and agriculture.

The Saudis were willing to lend petro-chemical expertise to the Western Cape in developing the oil and gas industry.

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