South Africa has officially launched a state-of-the-art, multi-billion rand cargo terminal, trade zone and agrizone – located between the two largest sea ports in the southern hemisphere – at the Dube Trade Port in La Mercy, KwaZulu-Natal.
The port, in which the King Shaka International Airport is located, has been operational for 22 months and the first phase has been completed. This includes a cargo terminal, trade zone, agrizone and IT and telecommunications platform.
In the long term, the plan is to establish an “aerotropolis” to the north of Durban, stretching from Umhlanga to Ballito, to further boost economic development and job creation in the province.
Between the South’s two largest sea ports
Located between the two largest sea ports in the southern hemisphere – Durban and Richards Bay – the Dube Trade Port has huge potential to boost economic growth and job creation in the province.
In 2003, South Africa decided to relocate the old Durban International Airport to La Mercy and to establish the Dube Trade Port, incorporating the new King Shaka International Airport. The airport was completed ahead of the 2010 Fifa World Cup.
Officially launching the Dube Trade Port on Thursday, President Jacob Zuma said he was impressed by the development at the massive facility.
“The focus on agriculture and food security in this airport city is a very progressive step,” Zuma said. “The advantage of the agrizone is the use of limited growing space for the production of high volumes of high quality produce.
“As this project demonstrates, there is real scope for growth and finding new markets for the produce, including exports. Other than improving food security, agriculture is an important source of exports,” Zuma added.
The Dube Trade Port Corporation – a state-owned enterprise – is now in a strong position to boost economic development and job creation in the province and the country. The construction phase alone has generated close to 20 000 jobs in each of the past two years.
Gateway to Africa
The government looks at its strategic airports to help promote its African agenda by opening up new routes or expanding existing ones on the continent. Zuma, therefore, welcomed SA Express’s decision to make Durban its base for growing its footprint into the southern African region.
SA Express has concluded an agreement with the Dube Trade Port Corporation, which will see a connection being established between King Shaka International and the region, especially to Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and Mozambique.
There are also plans for SA Express to expand into countries such as Namibia, Malawi, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“There can only be positive results from this strategic move,” Zuma said. “You will recall … that there is a major African Union move to develop a continental free trade zone.
“Three regions alone – SADC, the East African Community and Comesa – bring together about 600-million people. Added to this, Africa provides a market of one-billion people. The focus on our continent is therefore a step in the right direction in terms of the country’s strategic goals,” Zuma said.
Southern Africa’s ‘premier logistics platform’
“The Trade Port is also set to be southern Africa’s premier logistics platform, given that the Port of Durban provides connectivity to 53 international destinations and access to local distribution networks.”
The President said King Shaka International had to market itself aggressively as a key entry point for international routes by attracting international carriers to Durban via bilateral air service agreements.
Passenger traffic at the airport has been steadily growing since its move from the old Durban International Airport.
“It is anticipated that the airport’s passenger traffic for the 2012 financial year will surpass the five-million mark,” Zuma noted.
KwaZulu-Natal premier Zweli Mkhize, also speaking at the launch, said the Dube Trade Port would greatly expand the province’s import and export capacity.
Durban-Free State-Gauteng corridor
“The principal component of the Dube Trade Port is a new international passenger and cargo airport, but it is the new facility’s proximity to the harbours of Durban and Richards Bay that give it the edge as a transport and logistics hub,” Mkhize said.
The Dube Trade Port will form an important part of the government’s new pipeline of major infrastructure development projects, one of which is the improvement of the movement of goods and economic integration through a Durban-Free State-Gauteng logistics and industrial corridor.
“This project is intended to connect the major economic centres of Gauteng and Durban/Pinetown, and at the same time, link these centres with an improved export capacity through our sea ports and improved railway lines,” Zuma said.
“We expect this corridor to also stimulate growth in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, a major agricultural and industrial region through which this route will pass.”
After the launch, Zuma joined the Dube family to unveil a statue of the African National Congress’s (ANC’s) founding president, John Langalibalele Dube, at the Dube Trade Port offices.