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Transnet’s Durban Port Plans May Be Scuttled by Municipality

Oct. 3 (Bloomberg) -- A plan by Transnet SOC Ltd., South Africa’s ports and rail utility, to build a harbor on the site of Durban’s old airport may be scuppered if the east-coast city’s municipality relocates the Virginia Airport to the site.

The city placed the operators at Virginia, north of Durban, on a month-to-month lease at the beginning of the year, according to the Durban Chamber of Commerce. The tender for the management of the airport, held by Indiza Airport Management, ends this month.

Transnet earlier this year identified the site of the decommissioned airport for a new port to handle an anticipated six-fold increase in container traffic through the port city and signed a 1.8 billion-rand ($213 million) agreement to buy the land.

The project forms part of a government plan to improve transport links between the eastern port city and Gauteng, the country’s central industrial area, by 2050. Preliminary estimates so far indicate that 100 billion rand would be needed for the port-development precinct and a half-trillion rand for the entire corridor.

Relocating Virginia airport to the Transnet site “is only one option,” city spokesman Thabo Mofokeng said by phone from Durban. “Nothing has been concluded.”

Transnet, which took transfer of the land on Oct. 1, is “in the process of pre-feasibility studies and business plans,” Marc Descoins, program director for dug out port operations, said by phone from Durban.

“There are no plans to accommodate an airport and no approach has been received from the municipality. It is highly unlikely that we could accommodate an airport as the area has been decommissioned.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Niki Moore in Johannesburg at nmoore19@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net

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