But Durban business stakeholders say the move doesn’t make sense

The Coega Development Corporation has welcomed TNPA’S planned head office relocation to the Eastern Cape Port of Ngqura. But Durban business stakeholders and affected trade unions are critical of the decision, alleging a lack of consultation with both industry and staff.

TNPA in January confirmed it plans to move most of its staff in Johannesburg and Durban to its eMendi building in Ngqura by April this year. TNPA senior managers insist the move is in line with the company’s commitment to reduce costs. By moving into its own 10 000m2 building — completed at a cost of around R250-million in 2017 – the company will save millions in office rental.

In a statement released on January 27, CDC head of marketing Ayanda Vilakazi said the move was “much-welcomed” and built on the “symbiotic economic enabling relationship the CDC and Port of Ngqura have enjoyed over a long period of time.”

“We see this decision of the TNPA as showing the commitment to be closer to clients, ensure unblocking of projects, and also facilitate further the competitiveness of ports, impacting positively on the various port users,” Vilakazi said.  “TNPA provides the assurance that there are adequate, affordable, equitable and efficient port services and facilities available to the users of the ports. In addition, TNPA provides high levels of service and increasing efficiency for a growing customer base, enhancing South Africa’s global competitiveness and facilitating the expansion of the South African economy through socially and environmentally sustainable port development,” he said.

In a statement issued last month TNPA said the move would bring about savings of around R25m a year, previously spent on lease agreements. TNPA corporate affairs executive manager Ayanda Mantshongo said: ““The relocation of a sea port authority’s head office from a landlocked city, closer to its operations, ensures that TNPA serves its customers at the point of execution.”

“It bears reiterating that the strategic decision for the head office of TNPA to locate at one of the SA’s ports dates back over 10 years, which decision was not implemented, for reasons unrelated to the interests of the Port Authority and/or its customers,” Mantshongo said.

However some business stakeholders question whether the move makes sense in light of Durban’s status as one of Africa’s busiest ports.  A notable opponent of the move is Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Palesa Phili, who told Moneyweb the Chamber was hoping TNPA might reverse the decision:  “This move will be detrimental to the Port of Durban. It can’t just have a port manager – it needs executive focus as the country’s busiest port, handling over 60% of container cargo traffic,” Phili told Moneyweb.

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