Mkhize welcomes KZN dug-out port deal

Friday, April 13, 2012

Pretoria - KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize has welcomed the signing of a deal between Transnet and the Airports Company of South Africa (Acsa) for the purchase of the old Durban International Airport for R1.8 billion.

Transnet clinched the deal to buy the old Durban International Airport site, which will be turned into a multibillion-rand dug-out port that is envisaged to create hundreds of direct jobs. The dug-out port is expected to be ready by 2019.

Mkhize said the port will give the province a competitive edge.

"We have Durban as the busiest port on the continent and Richards Bay managing the biggest volumes of cargo in South Africa. With the addition of the dug-out port, we have an important strategic asset," said Mkhize.

He said their base of transportation and freight logistics facilities will also provide an effective platform for forging trade linkages between provinces within the country, with neighbouring states and the rest of the world, particularly the Asian and South American sub-continents, offering the province considerable investment spin-offs and opportunities.

"KZN's competitive edge is thus greatly enhanced and the speed in the roll-out of these developments is encouraging," said Mkhize, adding that they are planning an Automobile Supplier Park around the dug-out port.

The park will be a strategic site for the production of vehicle components and will improve production and competitiveness of the automotive industry.

Mkhize said the dug-out port, together with the new Dube Trade Port, will greatly expand the capacity of KwaZulu-Natal to import and export goods.

"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."

Looking into the future, Mkhize said the main strategic goal was to ensure that the province's automotive industry doubles its size in the next decade, and that it becomes a leading exporter of vehicles.

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