Decisive Radebe ends impasse over R1.6bn Dube Tradeport

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durban - the development of the dube tradeport and the king shaka international airport has been bolstered by decisive instructions from transport minister jeff radebe.

radebe has said ownership of the land to be developed and the setting of a date for the closure of durban international airport must be resolved in the next three months.

radebe said last week, in his budget vote, "the r1.6 billion dube tradeport and king shaka international airport will be fast-tracked. i have instructed that the key obstacles to the unlocking of the implementation process, including the ownership of the land and the decommissioning date of durban international airport, be overcome.

"this will allow the project to proceed to the private sector procurement stage. we will have to pull out all the stops if we are to meet the target of 2009 for the new airport and trade port to be operational ... but i am confident we can do it."

the dube tradeport, which is to be developed as a public-private partnership, still has to receive treasury approval to proceed to the private sector procurement stage. but all feasibility studies have been completed.

radebe's instructions end an impasse between the dube tradeport company and the kwazulu-natal government on the one side and the airports company south africa (acsa) on the other, over 2 060ha of land owned by acsa that is earmarked for the development.

in february former kwazulu-natal mec for works mike mabuyakhulu, who is now provincial mec for finance and economic development, published a government gazette notice stating the department's intent to expropriate the land. a court battle between the parties was averted after the notice was withdrawn before elections.

an acsa spokesperson said yesterday: "acsa has always indicated that the king shaka international airport was a government project to which it was not opposed. we, however, differed with the province on the timing of the project and opposed the provincial expropriation notice on our land at la mercy."

"acsa welcomes the direction given by the acsa shareholding minister and will engage in line with his expectations to bring the matter to conclusion. the involvement of the minister in this process assures acsa of a win-win outcome for all parties ...," the spokesperson said.

mabuyakhulu could not be reached for comment.

riad khan, the general manager of aviation and maritime at the department of transport, said resolving the land ownership issue might mean compensation for acsa or a role in the king shaka international airport or a combination of both.

the possible use for the land on which durban international is located will depend on when the airport is decommissioned and what is most feasible and beneficial to the kwazulu-natal economy and the country as a whole.

"it is highly unlikely that durban international airport will operate concurrently with king shaka international airport as this will impact on the financial viability of both facilities," khan said.

radebe said globally, multi-modal logistics platforms like the dube tradeport are becoming the norm for countries wishing to increase their competitiveness by reducing trade transaction costs and actively participating in global supply chains.

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