Better management needed to unlock harbour’s economic potential

At a sitting this afternoon (3 September 2015), the Western Cape Provincial Parliament debated the state of the province’s small boat harbours. Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities, participated in the debate.

We welcome the National Government’s proposed R400 million investment into the upgrading of harbours as part of Operation Phakisa.

Harbours have the potential to deliver a significant job creation and economic growth boost to the residents of the Western Cape. While the Western Cape commits to co-operating with the National Government to stimulate growth and jobs from the oceans, very serious questions need to be asked around their capacity to deliver on this project. The previous R200 million upgrade had minimal impact, in large part due to mismanagement.

The province’s twelve small fishing harbours can play a crucial role in supporting fishing communities and providing them with access to other economic opportunities.

It must be recognized, however, that the constitutional mandate to manage and control harbours rests with local government – and , quite frankly, we would do a much better job of it.

The truth of the matter is that the national government, specifically DAFF, has allowed our small harbours to fall into disrepair. A report commissioned in 2005 made a number of recommendations to address their dysfunctionality but not much has changed nearly a decade later. The Western Cape Government has also done extensive research in this regard. A study conducted by the provincial government found that the maintenance and development of the 12 existing designated fishing harbours along the province’s  coastline is of crucial importance for  any strategy aimed  at generating jobs and economic growth from our marine resources.

Harbours are the mandate of local government and national government should respect this.

The only responsible way to manage new investments into harbours is for local government’s constitutional mandate to be recognized. Municipalities are the custodians of local jobs and growth. We will continue to advance the process of restoring their mandate on managing harbours