The official opening ceremony for the new Kwa-Zulu Natal Cruise Terminal in Durban has been suspended until May 15th.
MSC Cruises said it had decided to postpone the inauguration event for the new cruise terminal following the devastating floods that hit Durban and surrounding areas last month.
This is the second postponement of the cruise terminal’s opening, after MSC Cruises in December shifted the date of the event due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In light of the recent flooding and extensive devastation in the KwaZulu-Natal region, we at the KwaZulu Cruise Terminal have concluded that we must postpone our proposed event to inaugurate the new cruise terminal in Durban until a later date,” MSC said in a statement.
The cruise line added that the communities impacted by the flooding are very close to the company’s heart, and will remain its primary focus in the coming weeks.
The MSC Foundation, which is the charitable arm of MSC Group, the parent company of MSC Cruises, has donated R1 million to help support these communities following the floods.
“This, for now, has to be and is our primary focus,” said MSC. The cruise line added that a new date for the inauguration of the cruise terminal has yet to be decided.
Kwa-Zulu Natal floods
In mid-April, the province of KZN was hit by unprecedented rains that caused some of the worst flooding in living memory.
More than 400 people were killed, and thousands were left homeless. The provincial government called it “one of the worst weather storms in the history of our country.”
Roads cracked and gave way to deep fissures. A huge stack of shipping containers collapsed into muddy waters. Bridges were swept away and railways lines were destroyed.
The total cost of the damage to infrastructure alone is estimated at more than R17-billion, while the impact to the local economy from lost tourism revenue and trade has yet to be felt.
Kwa-Zulu Natal Cruise Terminal
The opening of the Kwa-Zulu Natal Cruise Terminal was meant to be celebrated at the beginning of one of the biggest cruise seasons on record for Durban, marking the city’s emergence as a major cruise tourism destination and embarkation port.
The R200-million project is 70% owned by MSC Cruises, with the rest going to broad-based black economic empowerment investment company Africa Armada Consortium. MSC Cruises homeports annually in Durban, and has been doing so since the 1990s.
The cruise terminal project is part of a wider redevelopment of the surrounding area, in which the beachfront promenade will be extended from uShaka beach southwards to the harbour entrance in what the eThekwini municipality calls the Point Waterfront Development.
The plan was to position Durban as a major cruise hub, attracting other cruise lines to homeport annually and call in the city on African and Indian Ocean cruise itineraries.
Although these plans remain in play, they have been severely hampered, first by the COVID-19 pandemic, then by the riots in Durban and surrounding areas, and most recently by the devastating floods in April.