Cape Town mayor wants to boost jobs and attract investment to bolster the country’s boatbuilding hub

Mayor & Ald. James Vos visit to catamaran building companies in Paarden Island

The starched suit and polished shoes looked out of place, but Cape Town mayor Dan Plato was right on point during an impromptu visit to the city’s boat building hub in Paarden Island last month.

“We need incentives for boat builders,” said Plato, who was accompanied by the city’s head of Economic Opportunities and Asset Management James Vos. “We need to play a major role with regard to employment, by assisting wherever we can to make incentives attractive,” Plato told SABBEX, adding that reduced service charges could be one such incentive “to enable them to do what they are doing”.

“Boat builders play a major role in keeping the South African and the Western Cape economy going,” Plato said.

Plato and Vos and their personal assistants dodged clouds of fibre glass dust to inspect boats in various stages of production inside two Paarden Island yards, Voyage Yachts and Two Oceans Marine. They pumped hands with staff and scaled a ladder to reach the flybridge of a large Voyage catamaran. They also got a crash course in the fundamentals of boat building from Voyage MD Kay Oldenburg during a guided tour.

Plato said he was particularly impressed with the scale of production and the size of the export market. He said he hoped the City could build on the industry’s success to create even more jobs and investment revenue: “It is quite shocking for me to note that most of the boats built here are not for the Cape Town market but for export. It says to me that South Africa with its boat building industry is beginning to make its mark on the world. It’s amazing to see how many people are working here,” Plato said.

To mark the occasion of their visit the City released a formal statement detailing the boat building sector’s economic contribution. According to the City’s figures the sector at one stage grew year-on-year by 28,8%, and attracts a positive trade balance annually of around R1-billion. The 40 plus Cape Town yards – about 70% of the national total — employ around 3 500 specialist staff, the City said.

Concluded Plato: “I am proud to build on our track record of being one of the top catamaran producing countries in the world. The City, through its Invest Cape Town initiative, will collaborate with partners from business formations, investment promotion agencies like Wesgro and sector support entities, and all spheres of government to expand the boat building footprint in Cape Town.”

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