Go ahead for Cape Town harbour extensions

Dec 15, 2004
Author: P&S

The decision this week by the Department of Environmental Affairs & Tourism (DEAT) to approve a R600 million extension to the Cape Town Container Terminal will be welcomed by shippers and shipping lines alike, although not necessarily by the environmentalist lobby.

The project, which is expected to begin in 2006 and be completed in 2008, calls for a 300m wide extension of the container terminal stacking area. This will be developed further into Table Bay and increase the capacity of the terminal to 1.6 million TEUs.

Environmental concerns have been raised about the effect this would have on beaches and sealife elsewhere in Table Bay. There is a 30-day period in which appeals to the legislation can be made.

The amount now estimated for the terminal extension is considerably more than the R400m originally mentioned when the project was made public in 2003. This year Cape Town expects to handle about 525,000 TEUs. SA Port Operations (SAPO) recently increased the number of reefer plus points to 1392 and plans to add a further 300 in January and another 261 in May, bringing the total to 1983 points.

The port has come under increasing pressure from the city with in particular a demand for more leisure space around Table Bay. At the same time Cape Town port performs a vital commercial function, especially with time-sensitive refrigerated cargo such as fruit exports and fish products. The port has also assumed increased importance with the ship repair industry.

The success of the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront (V&A) which utilise the ports two lesser basins (Victoria and Alfred), and which remain in use by smaller vessels and harbour craft, has added to the pressure with objections from developers objecting to noise and dust pollution as a result of the working environment.

The V&A encompasses a considerable ship repair facility including a synchrolift facility and the Robinson dry dock, but this, although adding to the attraction of a working harbour for tourists, also detracts with visible and audible pollution. But all the while the very success of the V&A and consequent encroachment of waterfront activities have forced port authorities to look at transferring some of the landside harbour activities to the other side of Table Bay.

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