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Friday Dec 07, 2012

Airport handover a huge milestone in Durban's dig-out port project

A major step in the planned development of a new R75 billion dig-out port at the old Durban International Airport site was taken yesterday when the site was finally handed over to Transnet by the Airports Company of South Africa (Acsa).

Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba said it was a "milestone" for a project that would not only "change the face of Durban" but also "change the economic and social landscape of our country".

Speaking to The Mercury afterwards, Gigaba called on the South Durban community, who are opposing the development, to support the project in the interests of the country.

There would be enormous benefits for the surrounding communities in terms of jobs and new economic activities, he said.

"The dig-out port will have to happen, because ultimately it is strategically important for our country and Southern Africa in terms of regional economic integration," he said.

The handover of the airport comes after months of tough negotiations between Acsa and Transnet.

Transport Minister Dikobe Ben Martins said Transnet paid Acsa R1.85bn for the 641ha site, with the dig-out port one of the government's biggest strategic infrastructure projects. "The Department of Transport will now promulgate the Durban Dig-Out Port in terms of the Ports Act of 2005," he said.

"As required by the law, the department will undertake necessary consultations with the affected communities and the general public, before the port is promulgated," he said.

Transnet group CEO, Brian Molefe, said the dig-out port would become the biggest port in Africa. The first phase of the project needed to be completed by 2020, as capacity at the current Durban port would run out by 2019.

Current estimates for the cost of the project are at R75bn.

The new port is expected to house 16 container berths, five automotive berths and four liquid bulk berths.

There are promises of thousands of direct and indirect jobs during the construction phase, while more than 12 000 people will be directly employed once it is fully developed over the next three decades.

The Mercury

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