eThekwini Municipality will need to obtain funding from national government if it is to proceed with its controversial "back-of-port" project to expand the Durban Harbour.
The state-owned rail and logistics company Transnet plans to dig out two areas to expand the port within the next few years. As a result, eThekwini must cater for an expected increase in container traffic to 10m containers a year from the current 3m.
This comes as access routes and roads around the port are already congested, leading to slower delivery times for freight.
The "back-of-port" plan includes a dedicated truck route west from the port to the N2 highway, another truck route from the N2 to join the N3 at Cato Ridge, as well as a road linking the proposed dug-out port to the existing harbour, Graham Muller of Muller & Associates said yesterday.
The company is the lead consulting firm that drew up the back-of-port plan for the municipality. The project is likely to cost billions of rand.
eThekwini deputy city manager Musa Cele said that the back-of-port project was likely to be funded from a "mixture" of sources that may or may not include a toll road, although funds raised from a toll road were likely be insufficient to fund the entire project.
The city would negotiate with the South African National Roads Agency to pay at least part of the costs for a road from the N2 to the N3 at Cato Ridge. The first part of the project, a dedicated truck route from the port to the N2, might be funded by the city. The "back-of-port" project also involves the rezoning of the Clairwood residential suburb.
Many civic and environmental organisations in the South Durban Basin have opposed the project for fear that it will force them out and cause further environmental damage. The South Durban basin is one of the county's biggest industrial zones, but is also home to about 285,000 people.
However, Mr Muller said the project would require only a small area when compared with the residential areas of the South Durban basin.
He said most plots in Clairwood were occupied by illegal businesses. Residents would not be forced to move, existing environmentally sensitive "green" areas would be maintained and religious buildings would not be affected. eThekwini's head of development planning, environment and management, Soobs Moonsammy, said there were about 1,000 families living in informal settlements around Clairwood.
Mr Muller said that railway capacity was being expanded at the port and new truck transportation infrastructure would be required.
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