Major development and expansion plans revealed for eThekwini, Richards Bay

Major development and expansion plans revealed for eThekwini, Richards Bay

Major development and expansion plans revealed for eThekwini, Richards Bay

Durban – eThekwini Municipality is planning a billion rand flood-mitigation project in Durban South, an upgrade of the M7/N2 interchange, and is expected to partner with Transnet on major projects, including a R5 billion mixed use maritime project.

Municipal manager Musa Mbhele revealed the plans during a BRICS/ KwaZulu-Natal Trade and Investment seminar in Durban yesterday.

CEO Thabane Zulu of the Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone (RBIDZ) and Hamish Erskine, CEO of the Dube TradePort, also revealed major plans for development and expansion.

Mbhele said the municipality accounted for 59.9% of the provincial GDP and had diverse sectors ranging from manufacturing to tourism. He said eThekwini was a strategic point of entry and offered significant opportunities for investment and growth.

“One of the catalytic projects is the upgrade of the M7 and N2 interchange which has gone out to tender. It is a significant logistics corridor and the project will add lanes and make movement easier.”

He said this formed part of the strategic spatial development framework, especially along major transport routes.

Mbhele said the development project in Shongweni, a housing and logistics precinct, had already reached a 70% occupancy rate.

He also spoke on the Durban port plans. The Mercury reported last week that Transnet Port Terminals had formed a joint venture with International

Container Terminal Services Inc of the Philippines to manage the operations of Durban Container Terminal Pier 2 for a period of 25 years, with the option to extend the time period.

Zulu said the RBIDZ, Transnet and the City of uMhlathuze were working on a transport plan to deal with the truck congestion on the N2 as trucks wait to enter the Richards Bay harbour.

“The unexpected demand for coal from Europe, because of the Russia and Ukraine conflict, has led to an increase in demand. We have signed a memorandum of understanding with uMhlathuze traffic management to help decongest the route.

“This is an important route for the SADC region and into Africa and to get goods to Europe,” Zulu said.

He said Richards Bay is a geographically strategic location, with the value for investors related to the port and the industrial zone’s strategic relationship with Transnet.

“We have gas to power projects and we have identified five renewable energy projects which are going through different processes.

“In the near future we will have an energy hub and we want to create a conducive environment in the zone so that whatever form of energy is required, is available.”

Erskine said the Dube TradePort was always trying to innovate and look for new markets, while working closely with the airlines.

“Safety and security is the number one priority as this gives investors confidence and attracts more of them. We have all regulatory authorities in one zone with customs on site, SAPS and our own security.”

Earlier, Deputy Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Nomalungelo Gina, said the essence of the BRICS summit was commercial rather than political.

“What is fed in the media is the political side of things about the summit, speculations around replacement of the dollar as an exchange currency and countries who have applied for membership.

“All of this noise is being made without any effort to highlight the role of business through the Inward Buying Investment Mission to grow our economies.”

She said it was important for the continent to address the existing trade balance between Africa and the other BRICS countries.

“Improvement of continental exports to the BRICS bloc will improve the growth position of Africa, while providing a market as net importer from the same countries.

“It is this mutually beneficial trade relationship that we must build with one another, underpinned by openness and trust.”

“Part of this commitment, is the policy of localisation in South Africa for manufactured goods, to allow a certain percentage of components to be sourced within the country to create more indirect jobs through local suppliers.”

Gina said the activation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) meant there was growing interest in various global manufacturers to locate their operations on the African continent, to allow them to benefit from the preferential trade afforded through the AfCFTA.

“As Africa, we are therefore positioning ourselves to attract global foreign investors. We are a huge market of 1.3 billion ready to be tapped.”