The Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber fully supports and welcomes Transnet National Ports Authority’s (TNPA) head office relocation to the region. The move is long overdue and we applaud the increased speed of implementation, as it is indeed not a new decision. This a delayed implementation of a decision taken over a decade ago, culminating in the building of the infrastructure that is now ready to host the staff. This delay in itself has had huge opportunity costs for the region.
The Eastern Cape is always desirous of receiving its fair and equitable share of any projects and programmes to boost economic development throughout the country. It is common cause that the Eastern Cape faces serious challenges (including) high unemployment rates, inequality and poverty. Whilst we are acutely aware that TNPA carries a national mandate, we welcome its location within the region. We fully expect that their location in this region – will not in any way – reduce their competence in carrying out their mandate in other parts of the country. It would have been counter-intuitive for TNPA to ignore the already-existing infrastructure – built at huge cost to the entity – when taking the decision. Whilst that is not the only factor they considered, it is an important one. As a country faced with limited fiscal resources, we applaud them for considering all factors when deciding to consolidate. We view it as a strategically smart move. As the Business Chamber, our focus is not to go toe-to-toe with our counterparts, as we believe in the one-country (SA) concept. However, we are certain that, if we were to request TNPA and other State Owned Companies to disclose all investments they have made in other cities and/or provinces around the country, the results would be telling. That exercise would expose the levels of inequities meted out to the Eastern Cape over time. But then again, our game plan is in rebuilding the economy of our country – in all its corners. We therefore, applaud TNPA for taking the rational, business principles-based decision to consolidate its efforts. If ever there was a time for business, government and labour to work together, this is it.
TNPA have reported that the relocation and consolidation of the Parktown (Johannesburg) and Kingsmead (Durban) offices to the eMendi building (in Nelson Mandela Bay) would lead to cost savings in the region of R25 million per annum, bringing the R255 million eMendi Building to full use.
The Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber welcomes the move as part of TNPA’s ongoing initiatives and strategy to reduce its cost of doing business and improve operational efficiency and synergy across the South African port system. Affordability and ease of doing business are major factors in the attraction of new investments into any region. We expect this move to have a positive effect on the economy, leading to new and sustainable jobs as well as a vibrant economy.
Fundamentally, one must consider that TNPA is principally responsible for the safe, effective, and efficient economic functioning of the entire national port system. The relocation to the Eastern Cape is appropriate, as the province is centrally located between the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, where other port operations are positioned.
The Eastern Cape is home to three of South Africa’s eight commercial seaports with TNPA a clear strategic enabler of economic recovery. The region witnessed record-breaking citrus export volumes this past year, while the motor industry – the backbone of the region – also showed positive signs in export sales.
We strongly believe that the strategy to relocate to TNPA’s head office to eMendi is a well-considered, optimal decision to improve the success and viability of the entity’s operations nationally, in the best interest of the South African business sector in entirety. We have faith in the leadership and experience of the executives of the entity.
We fully expect this relocation to be catalytic in the economic recovery of the region. We welcome the staff and their families to Nelson Mandela Bay, a great place to live, work and play. They will find this friendly city to be welcoming, where the cost of living is relatively low, great properties at affordable prices, boasting great schools, with amazing amenities for families and – indeed the best tourism experiences throughout the Eastern Cape.