SA Cruise News

Is Durban Cruise Terminal caught up in the Transnet corruption scandal?

Transnet’s plans to increase capacity at the Port of Durban through dredging three container berths to accommodate larger vessels have been delayed by a corruption investigation, and work on the new Durban Cruise Terminal also appears to have stalled.

Four executives from Transnet have been suspended (Shulami Qalinge, chief executive of Transnet National Ports Authority, Ravi Nair, the chief executive at Transnet Freight Rail, and roup HR officer Nonkululeko Sishi and group chief operating officer Mlamuli Buthelezi).

Plans to dredge and widen three berths in Durban Port have been stalled

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Transnet said the suspensions were necessary to aid in investigations into their alleged misconduct, without interference. The executives are accused of involvement in a wider corruption scandal being investigated by the Zondo commission of inquiry.

A major project worth R7-billion to widen and deepen the Durban Container Terminal North Quay has been suspended, after work commenced in 2017 two years late.

Although there has been no indication that the Durban Cruise Terminal project is affected by the investigation, it is another initiative that is behind schedule and appears to have stagnated.

The first time tenders were called for, Transnet inexplicably stopped the process and all bidding had to be done again.

When the current contract was signed between Transnet National Ports Authority and the KwaZulu Cruise Terminal (KCT) consortium in 2017, it was reported that work on the terminal would begin in 2018.

The agreement says that KCT will finance, build, operate and maintain the new cruise terminal.

The R200-million project will be 70% owned by MSC Cruises, with the rest going to broad-based black economic empowerment investment company Africa Armada Consortium.

Construction was expected to commence in May, 2018, with the new terminal opened by October this year. That date has now been pushed back to 2020.

Work was meant to have commenced by now on the Durban Cruise Terminal, but is also delayed

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It’s unclear what is causing the delay, or whether the 25-year concession given by Transnet to KCT to operate the terminal, is under investigation.

Cruise Arabia & Africa has reached out to Kwazulu Cruise Terminal for comment.

The Durban Cruise Terminal is vitally important for the future of the city’s cruise market. The current cruise facilities, N-Shed Passenger Terminal, are outdated and inefficient, holding back international mainstream cruise lines from homeporting in the city.

Since the launch of the redeveloped Cape Town Cruise Terminal, the cruise market in the city has grown significantly, with two new cruise lines (AIDA Cruises and TUI Cruises) joining MSC Cruises in homeporting for the full South African cruise season.

While MSC Cruises’ ship MSC Musica, and next season MSC Orchestra, will divide the season between Durban and Cape Town, AIDA and TUI will be cruising only from Cape Town.

For the 2019/2020 season 30 vessels are expected to make 49 stops in Cape Town, while for the 2020/21 season, 32 vessels, with 67 stops are already confirmed.

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