Waterfront set to fight berthing ban

iol news 14 jan cw Waterfront pic Colin Devenish

Independent Newspapers

NOT IMPRESSED: Tourism MEC Alan Winde, centre, at Duncan Dock yesterday, which he says does not offer cruise liner passengers the best entrance to Cape Town. With him are V&A Waterfront executive manager Colin Devenish, left, and Hubert Jack, port co-ordinator of the Border Control Operational Co-ordinating Committee customs and border management. Picture: Tracey Adams

Tourism MEC Alan Winde is set to take up the fight on behalf of the V&A Waterfront to secure permission for cruise liners to continue docking there when he meets Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma on Tuesday.

The V&A has appealed for vessels smaller than 200m to continue being allowed to anchor at the Waterfront, rather than moving to the far less glamourous Duncan Dock.

And Winde is adamant that the new “blanket ruling”, apparently done in line with “security considerations”, won’t do tourism any favours.

Following a visit yesterday to Duncan Dock, Winde toldWeekend Argus that it “just makes economic sense to welcome tourists at the Waterfront”.

“It’s a far better welcome into Cape Town, and it shows more of what we have to offer.”

Donoven Gloy, the Waterfront’s communications manager, said if tourists disembarked at the industrial Duncan Dock, they could miss the V&A altogether, resulting in not only potential revenue loss for the popular tourist attraction, but also for the city and the province as a whole.

“That is a real shame because the V&A Waterfront is such a jewel in the South African tourism crown,” he added.

The issue has sparked huge controversy since, without warning, Home Affairs on Tuesday issued an instruction to immediately ban berthing at the Waterfront.

For more than 100 years ships have tied up at Number Two Jetty, allowing thousands of tourists to sail into Cape Town.

Yesterday Winde pointed out that the Waterfront had never been able to accommodate vessels longer than 200m to begin with

, and had now requested that the new ruling be changed to allow vessels not larger than this to continue to anchor there.

Gloy said that last year more than 18 000 tourists from 19 different cruise ships came through the V&A Waterfront. About 13 cruise ships were scheduled to visit Cape Town between now and May.

Tariq Mellet, director of Immigration: Aviation & Maritime Ports, said in a statement yesterday docking cruise ships at the Waterfront presented a variety of security issues.

“The present scenario where these vessels are berthed wherever they can be fitted in, at the convenience of the port authority, is unacceptable.

“Chaotic conditions result in passengers not being cleared and wandering off, while customs officials battle to handle luggage clearances.”

Mellet said Cape Town’s harbours were key points for illegal entry and exit of people, drugs and even human trafficking. Duncan Dock was, however, a secure harbour which would better regulate visiting cruise ships.

“Home Affairs wants a dedicated berth for such vessels, and a dedicated permanent passenger terminal. The minister, the department and the security agencies have identified a convenient berthing site for development of such a secure and pleasant facility,” he said. – Weekend Argus

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Waterfront set to fight berthing ban