Transnet National Ports Authority and the KwaZulu Cruise Terminal (KCT) consortium on Monday officially signed an agreement that will see the construction of a R200-million-plus cruise terminal at the entrance to the Port of Durban.
The consortium, which is 70% owned by MSC Cruises, the largest cruise line operating in South African waters, and 30% by broad-based black economic empowerment investment company Africa Armada Consortium, was declared the preferred bidder for the 25-year concession project in May 2017.
KCT will finance, build, operate and maintain the new cruise terminal.
The project is expected to dovetail with the eThekwini municipality’s Point Waterfront Development and plans to extend the beachfront promenade from uShaka beach southwards to the harbour entrance.
Speaking on behalf of KCT, Gianluca Suprani, MSC Cruises head of global port development and shore activities, said the official signing of the agreement, which had initially been expected to occur before the end of 2017, had taken longer because of the magnitude of the intended greenfield project.
The detailed design phase of the terminal will begin this month and will take nine months to complete, as the detailed design will differ from the initial conceptual visuals that were circulated a year ago.
The initial visuals were created by a European company, whereas the final design will be done by a local firm and will include “Zulu characteristics”, said Suprani.
The 18-month construction phase will begin in January 2019. The new Durban cruise terminal is expected to commence operations in October 2020, kicking off the 2020/21 cruise season.
Speaking at the signing ceremony at N-shed, which currently serves as Durban’s cruise terminal, TNPA CE Shulami Qalinge said the wider vision for the new cruise terminal was to position Durban as a smart port city and a world-class cruise capital that would ultimately create jobs, introduce new technologies and grow tourism.
She said the new ‘green’ and energy efficient terminal would include features and facilities that would allow for simultaneous embarkation and disembarkation of passengers on multiple vessels. There would be parking for 200 vehicles with kerbside drop-off facilities for 12 buses, dedicated baggage drop-off areas, separate screening and temporary holding areas, as well as separate passenger entry and exit points.
The planned terminal will also be a multi-use facility with a retail component, as well as multipurpose training, conferencing and events facilities.
Speaking on behalf of MSC, Captain Salvatore Sarno said the training facility will enable the training of engineers, mechanics, technical experts, specialist boiler operators and welders. They will be employed in the maintenance and repair of vessels rounding the Cape.
Qalinge added that the new terminal would attract larger vessels and more leading cruise liners to South Africa. The cruise season period could also be extended during the 25-year operational phase, resulting in economic spinoffs.
Cruise vessel calls to Durban are projected to increase substantially from 60 a year to more than 150 a year by 2040 with the number of passengers expected to grow from 200 000 a year to over 700 000 a year.
According to KCT, the project will see the creation of up to 10 000 employment opportunities. Over 100 will be direct jobs during the operation phase. KCT has set aside a budget of R3-million for the training and development of more than 100 people during the construction phase.
Transnet CEO Siyabonga Gama said the signing of the agreement meant South Africa’s tourism industry would no longer miss out on the burgeoning growth of the global cruise market which was estimated to be worth $40-billion.
He said growing the cruise liner segment of its business was in keeping with Transnet’s broader future vision.
“Transnet finds itself operating in an ever-changing global environment. Traditional markets are changing fundamentally. The Fourth Industrial Revolution, characterised by the changes in traditional economic paradigms, is transforming the way we do business, how we respond to our stakeholders and the impact we have on society.
“While these changes are exponential and disruptive on industry and society, they also provide Transnet with opportunities to grow and diversify our business. Crucially, we all need to invent, develop and bring to the market new service offerings and products,” he pointed out.
He noted that Transnet had adopted the Transnet 4.0 Strategy which would reposition Transnet as a global integrated logistics service provider. This was aimed at growing Transnet into a R100-billion business by 2020.
He said it would focus on three major growth areas – geographic expansion, product and service innovation and diversification and manufacturing.
“Transnet will accelerate its efforts to extend its footprint in the fast-growing regions of Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. This will enable Transnet to enhance existing trade corridors and to create new corridors.
“We will transform from primarily a transport and cargo handling focused business to an integrated logistics service provider, offering end-to-end solutions to customers. This will unlock opportunities for emerging companies and create better insight into the logistics challenges confronting domestic companies.”
He said Transnet would expand the scope of manufacturing capabilities as well as seek new markets for existing manufactured products. This would provide a stimulus to the reindustrialisation of the domestic and regional economy.