KZN eyes another tourist paradise
"A multi-billion-rand plan to revamp the former Victoria Embankment as a tourist playground in time for the 2022 Commonwealth Games was revealed in Durban on Tuesday."
Dubbed the Bayside Precinct Plan, the project aims to link the existing beachfront promenade from uShaka Marine World, down to the harbour mouth, past the refurbished cruise terminal, along the embankment, ending at Wilson’s Wharf.
The plan, revealed by the province at The Mercury Business Breakfast event, includes houses and a recreational park built on the water, similar to examples in Florida in the US; studio flats; a commercial and retail marina; expanding the Royal Natal Yacht Club to meet international standards; a water-sport centre; a maritime college and research base; water taxi node; and a more attractive entry to the yacht basin.
Further upgrades to some of the buildings between the new waterfront and the city centre are also part of the plans.
KwaZulu-Natal Premier Senzo Mchunu said that the 10-year project was in sync with a further R25-billion earmarked for the Point development, including a makeover of the ageing passenger terminal.
Frikkie Brooks, the acting director-general in the province, said the promenade should be completed in time for the Commonwealth Games. “I don’t think it’s possible to complete the whole plan by 2022, but ideally we want to get the promenade sorted out before then,” he said.
Graham Rose, the commodore at the yacht club, said the project would increase the economic potential of the yachting industry.
“We will attract more visitors and host international yachting events,” he said.
But heavy trucks and the railway line, which prevent easy access by the public to the proposed waterfront, were a challenge to the success of the plan. While Transnet failed to respond to e-mailed questions from The Mercury, Mchunu said he would have to “sit under a tree and drink some Zulu beer” with the port authority head, Siyabonga Gama, to iron out their “strategic” differences on the issue.
With the commercial floors of the embankment’s John Ross House coming under the hammer in Gauteng on Thursday, Frank Reardon, from the Broll Property Group, said the connection and re-linking of the Point and passenger terminal precincts, Durban’s waterfront and city centre was a “logical and positive” step to accelerate urban renewal and attract investment.
Muhammed Seedat, who has invested in the regeneration of the city centre, said in any other city in the world, the embankment would be prime real estate with the stunning harbour views, both for residential and commercial purposes.
“I see a mixed-use development on the waterfront that would compare with, if not surpass, other major city attractions in the world,” he said.
Massive projects in the pipeline to change KwaZulu-Natal
KwaZulu-Natal Premier Senzo Mchunu on Tuesday confirmed his support for the R6-billion development at the Virginia Airport site reported in The Mercury last week.
He said the airport must have relocated to Scottburgh and be functional by 2017.
Mchunu said that the province was in talks with the defence force with a view to setting up a training base for pilots to ensure the new airport’s viability.
The Virginia development, said Mchunu, would allow the city to extend the beach promenade from Blue Lagoon to the Gateway shopping mall. It should be completed by 2022.
Further “catalytic” projects included the possible development of another runway at King Shaka International Airport.
• Expansion of the Richards Bay port to a major bulk container terminal.
• Durban Harbour set for a massive facelift.
• Construction of the passenger cruise terminal.
• The proposed dig-out port getting under way only once the Durban and Richards Bay ports were fully utilised and had been upgraded.
• An upgrade at EB Cloete interchange, which included a massive arched bridge.
• A R1.3-billion upgrade to rail signalling and the railway network between Durban, Richards Bay and Mozambique.
• A bypass road on the southern side of Pietermaritzburg.
• Plans for water storage on the Mdloti, Mvoti and uThukela rivers. A desalination plant should not be ruled out as the province became drier with climate change.
• Film studio plans for the old Natal Command site would be announced in “a few months”.