Great news from the Port of Richards Bay
It’s been off-off for so many years that one can be excused for being skeptical about a future dry dock or ship repair facility at the Port of Richards Bay.
It has been talked about, promised, planned and even signed for during the past two decades, but each time it seemed the project would finally materialise, plans changed and the development was put on hold.
Finally – dare we say it – it looks like the dry dock will at last happen, and it promises to breathe new life into the local, provincial and national economy.
A week ago, the Department of Environmental Affairs gave the go-ahead for the R1-billion ship repair facility at the small craft harbour, where the quay will be extended and deepened to accommodate large vessels, including bulk carriers and tankers.
It is part of a R4.4-billion capital investment programme at the country’s largest port and will be the forerunner to a proposed fully-fledged dry dock elsewhere in the harbour in time to come.
The timing could not have been better, coming as it did while the national jobs summit was in progress. Ship repair is not only a huge commercial industry; it is also extremely labour intensive. One trusts most of this labour will be sourced locally when the time comes, and also that local emerging businesses as well as service and material providers will get their fair slice of the cake.
Already the epicentre of the local and regional economy, feeding as the does the City of uMhlathuze’s giant industries, the Port of Richards Bay’s strategic importance will be further bolstered.
Tied in with the Richards Bay Industrial Zones’ ambitious plans, the ship repair facility will further engrave the city on the global business map. From the outset when Richards Bay was identified many years ago as a strategic location for a deep water port, a large percentage of that potential remains unexploited.
We could be looking at something that will have tremendous direct and indirect positives for our communities. We await with great anticipation details on who will be building this latest port asset… and when.