Zuma launches KZN’s trade gateway to the world

2012-03-09 00:00

IN 2010 the people of KwaZulu-Natal took to the skies from a new international airport. Two years later the fruits of their hard work will once again take to the skies, destined for foreign markets.

President Jacob Zuma yesterday officially launched the Dube Trade Port within the R8 billion King Shaka International Airport precinct at La Mercy, north of Durban.

The facility — which comprises an agrizone, cargo terminal, business and trade facility, telecommunications platform and a trade zone — underscores the province’s ambition to become Southern Africa’s premier trade and logistics hub.

The trade port is located strategically between the mega ports of Durban and Richards Bay. It is also an ideal location from which to export KZN’s rich array of produce.

The development of the country’s infrastructure is firmly on the national agenda, and this has provided hope that infrastructure development will serve as a catalyst for sustainable and consistent economic growth.

Zuma drummed home the point, noting that rebuilding the country was one of his administration’s major objectives.

“We have decided to invest in infrastructure in an unprecedented manner in this country.

“To be able to build dams, power stations, bridges, roads, viable ports and railway lines and even new cities and towns, we need a single-minded approach towards a seamless infrastructure development programme over at least 20 to 30 years.

“The global economic situation remains fragile. We have to create opportunities locally and regionally in the continent and investing in infrastructure is the way to go,” Zuma said.

He added that the project had created 20 000 jobs during the construction phase. It is clear that more will follow once the facilities are completely up and running.

The agrizone facility has already created more than 120 jobs.

“Looking forward, this project has the potential to support much more employment as it links our producers to markets around the world,” Zuma said.

 

The Witness that the facility was a one-of-a-kind economic zone in South Africa.

Gasa was the executive manager of Infrastructure Development at the Coega Development Corporation industrial development zone.

“There is no other economic zone like it. This facility is one of a few that has the potential to respond to the country’s job creation and economic growth needs,” Gasa said.

With phase one completed, the challenge will now be to develop Dube City — which will comprise hotel, hospitality, entertainment, office and retail space — to its full potential.

The CEO of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Andrew Layman, told The Witness that the facility represented tremendous foresight given the importance of logistics in the modern world economy. He described the trade port and King Shaka airport as KZN’s iconic landmark, and said they went a long way toward creating an “airtropolis”.

Zuma has come full circle. When he was MEC for Economic Affairs in the mid-1990s he advocated strongly for the establishment of the facility.

A statue of the first president and founding member of the ANC, Dr John Langalibalele Dube, after whom the trade port was named, was unveiled at the event.

Zamani Jali, chairperson of the John Langalibalele Dube Foundation, said the trade port marked a new beginning for the province’s economic prospects.

“We are now realising Mafukuzela’s [Dube’s] dream. But legacies are not about one individual. They are about people … and what they give as a benefit to those he left the legacy to,” Jali said.

The trade port has already had a profound impact on the local economy. A recent study showed that about R6 billion in household income was generated in the construction phase of the facilities.

It also found that the trade port contributed R8,4 billion to the country’s gross domestic product in the construction phase.

Almost 75% of the money spent on goods and services went to broad-based black economic enterprises and small and medium enterprises.

The trade port has also led to the planned construction of a road link between the cargo terminal and trade zone from the N2 and R102 highways.

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