South African state company Transnet has signed a R1.8-billion deal to buy the old Durban International Airport, which will be turned into a multibillion-rand dug-out port that will boost the country’s competitive edge while creating thousands of new jobs.
KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize on Friday welcomed the signing of a deal between Transnet and Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) for the purchase of the old Durban International Airport.
‘Investment spin-offs and opportunities’
Mkhize said the new dug-out port, expected to be ready by 2019, would give South Africa and KwaZulu-Natal a major competitive edge, offering the country and the province considerable investment spin-offs and opportunities.
“We have Durban as the busiest port on the continent and Richards Bay managing the biggest volumes of cargo in South Africa,” Mkhize said. “With the addition of the dug-out port, we have an important strategic asset.”
Transnet’s transport and freight logistics facilities would also provide an effective platform for forging trade links between provinces, with neighbouring states and with the rest of the world, particularly the Asian and South American sub-continents, Mkhize said.
Automotive component supplier park
“The speed in the roll-out of these developments is encouraging,” he said, adding that there were plans for the creation of an automotive component supplier park around the dug-out port.
This would enable the province’s automotive industry to double its size over the next decade, and become a leading exporter of vehicles.
The dug-out port, together with the new Dube Trade Port, would greatly expand the capacity of KwaZulu-Natal to import and export goods, Mkhize said.
“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.
“Rail and road links up and down the coast to these two major seaports will make it easy to switch cargo between different modes of transport. Large quantities that arrive by sea can be dispersed in disaggregated volumes at speed by air.”