The DA has accused the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) of "dragging its feet" and losing out on potentially billions of rands from Africa's lucrative west coast gas and oil-platform repair business.
The party has vowed to take the matter up with Parliament's public enterprises portfolio committee.
In a statement, Democratic Alliance MP Natasha Michael said the TNPA's failure to take certain decisions within 16 months had resulted in specialist shipping company Universal Africa Lines (UAL) withdrawing from plans to invest in the Saldanha Bay industrial development zone (IDZ).
UAL provides a service to the West African oil industry. According to recent media reports, the company had planned to invest in the Saldanha oil and gas service base.
Michael said the TNPA's "inability" to improve the harbour facilities at Saldanha Bay had led to UAL announcing it was withdrawing its plans.
"UAL has been negotiating with Transnet to improve the harbour at Saldanha for the last 16 months.
"But the TNPA, which is a subsidiary of Transnet, has been dragging its feet during that period," she said.
UAL's investment in the region was possible only if the harbour was large enough to deal with its equipment.Still open for discussion?
"After 16 months of negotiations without any noteworthy outcomes, UAL has been forced to withdraw their planned investment and look for alternative sites in other African countries," Michael said.
However, UAL's shipping manager in South Africa Annalize Krause suggested the company remained open to discussion.
"We haven't closed the door completely," she said on Thursday.
Her comment follows a statement by UAL chairman Roger Jungblut, in which he announced his company's decision to withdraw from the investment.
"The UAL group has 37 years' experience in the industry and, based on this, we know that decisions have to be taken within a short period of time, serving the oil and gas offshore industry; and, as a result, UAL could not deliver to the industry as anticipated when negotiations originally started."
Jungblut said it was correct to say UAL had withdrawn, but added the group was "reconsidering their development depending on TNPA promises to improve facilities as per our last discussion".
No one was available for comment at Transnet's media desk on Thursday.UAL decision 'regrettable'
According to news reports, TNPA CEO Tau Morwe has described the UAL decision as "regrettable".
According to the Transnet website, its national ports authority has a strategy aimed, among other things, at the "timely delivery of capital investment projects to sustain and increase existing port infrastructure and marine capacity".
Michael said the situation at Saldanha needed to be dealt with as soon as possible to ensure the necessary investments were made.
"The Saldanha Bay IDZ is intended to serve as an oil-platform repair and service hub. The Western Cape government has gone to great lengths to attract investment from that industry to this particular area," she said.
"The ultimate goal is to benefit from the booming oil industry off Africa's western shoreline. If the harbour is upgraded and the IDZ implemented, it could attract billions in foreign investment and thousands of new jobs could be created."
via I-Net Bridge