Dust raised over Bay cruise ship berths

Zululand Observer - Monday - - FRONT PAGE - Dave Sa­vides

UN­LESS a ‘dust free’ berth can be found for pas­sen­ger ships that visit the Port of Richards Bay, the fu­ture prospect of lux­ury liner op­er­a­tors con­tin­u­ing to in­clude this re­gion on their cruise itineraries is slim. That cau­tion was given on Fri­day dur­ing a wel­com­ing func­tion on board the world’s most lux­u­ri­ous cruise ves­sel, the MS Europa2. The ves­sel had berthed at the work­ing 606 multi-pur­pose ter­mi­nal, where the hun­dreds of af­flu­ent pas­sen­gers looked out over a de­cid­edly non-tourist­friendly view. With a few crafters sell­ing their wares un­der the burn­ing sun, there was noth­ing that would en­cour­age the ocean travel sec­tor. But it was dust con­cerns that dom­i­nated the con­ver­sa­tion prior to the hand­ing over of me­men­tos of the ship’s visit. ‘Last time I was here, it took days to rid the ves­sel of the dust and we were in­un­dated with com­plaints from the pas­sen­gers,’ said Capt Ulf Wolter, Master of the Europa 2. ‘We might have to con­sider other op­tions as the dust fac­tor is se­ri­ously not ac­cept­able.’ While pas­sen­ger ves­sels are tra­di­tion­ally berthed at the Small Craft Har­bour, this is de­pen­dent on that berth’s avail­abil­ity, plus fac­tors such as the ves­sel’s size. But that par­tic­u­lar berth has been ear­marked for the fu­ture ship re­pair fa­cil­ity and in any event, pre­vail­ing winds that co­in­cide with the tourism sea­son are ei­ther strong north-east­erly or south-west­erly, both of which carry sig­nif­i­cant air­borne dust from the busy work­ing har­bour. Ship­ping agen­cies agree on the need for a pro­tected, ded­i­cated pas­sen­ger ter­mi­nal. It is some­thing not only the port au­thor­i­ties must ur­gently ad­dress, but also some­thing the city and the re­gion must push for as they strive for ocean econ­omy ben­e­fits. TNPA of­fi­cials at the wel­com­ing func­tion of Fri­day were in agree­ment that the present cruise liner berth is­sue was a prob­lem that needs to be work­shopped. But find­ing the right lo­ca­tion as the port plans to bulk up its im­port and ex­port ca­pa­bil­ity and to diver­sify into new sec­tors won’t be easy to rem­edy, es­pe­cially as indi­ca­tions are that the num­ber of vis­it­ing pas­sen­ger ships is set to in­crease greatly over the next two sea­sons.

It took days to rid the ves­sel of the dust and we were in­un­dated with com­plaints from the pas­sen­gers

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