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Thursday Jun 15, 2017

Cape Town to save harbours from government neglect

The City of Cape Town is determined to wrestle management of small harbours in its jurisdiction from the National Department of Public Works (DPW), the owner of 333 harbours and coastal properties in the country.

With their eyes firmly fixed on Gordon's Bay harbour, Granger Bay harbour, Hout Bay harbour, Kalk Bay harbour and Murray's Bay harbour at Robben Island, the city published a draft harbour by-law for public comment by July 8.

Highly critical of the departments of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (Daff ), and DPW administration of the harbours, deputy mayor Ian Neilson said the city hoped to reverse the "systematic mismanagement of the harbours" by the two departments.

Neilson said the city had spent years trying to thrash out a deal with Daff and DPW for the proper administration of the harbours in its jurisdiction but Daff refused to participate and DPW had bailed out of talks.

After consulting with legal counsel, the city decided to "forge ahead" with the draft harbour by-law as it was within municipalities' constitutional mandate to administer harbours within their jurisdiction, said Neilson.

"In view of the failure to establish a co-operative arrangement with the two departments, the City intends to take over their administration by means of a harbour by-law."

"This will authorise the City to administer these harbours, to regulate harbour and other municipal matters in the harbour precincts, and to set standards for the repair and maintenance of the harbours to be implemented by the DPW," said Neilson.

Neilson said the harbours' "dilapidated and dysfunctional state has a serious impact on those who use them, in particular the workers and communities who depend on the harbours for their livelihood". "Lack of professional management and maintenance has resulted in the serious degradation of these public assets, an increase in crime, and a failure to develop their economic potential," said Neilson.

Copies of the draft by-law were sent to Daff and DPW for their consideration on May 29 but neither responded to the City. "The sooner the harbour by-law can be enacted, the sooner we can begin to reverse the rot," said Neilson.

SA National Civic Organisation provincial secretary Bongikhaya Qhama said harbours should remain under the control of national government and the City was doing this to manipulate the system for the benefit of white businesses. Daff spokesperson Lunga Mahlangu said the department wasn't ready to comment.

Cape Argus

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