The long-awaited revitalisation of the Port of East London’s Latimer’s Landing quayside leisure development has taken a leap forward, with approval granted to Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) to proceed with demolishing the existing historic structure and to replace it with a modern fit for purpose structure.
Built in the early 1900’s using Karri wood, the jetty on the Buffalo River was closed in 2009 due to the negative impact sea water had had on its structural integrity. TNPA had to apply to the Eastern Cape Provincial Heritage Resource Authority (ECPHRA) for a permit to demolish the structure because it is older than 60 years and protected under the National Heritage Resources Act 25 of 1999. This application has now been approved and paves the way for TNPA to proceed with phase 1 of the project which entails demolition and reconstruction.
The site is world-renowned as the place where the prehistoric coelacanth fish was brought to shore, dispelling the accepted belief that it had become extinct.
East London Port Manager, Sharon Sijako, said: “Latimer’s Landing is a unique and valuable asset to our city, but one that has not been optimally utilised in recent years. With the support of our strategic stakeholders and the East London community, we are committed to changing this by redeveloping the jetty and giving the city’s existing basket of tourism and leisure attractions an exciting and extensive makeover.”
Sijako acknowledged that Latimer’s Landing, as the only waterfront and leisure development of its kind in the region, should be a premier tourist attraction that operates for the benefit of the entire region.
In line with its vision of transforming its ports into ‘people’s ports’, TNPA envisages an array of exciting waterfront activities, water-based attractions, and quayside restaurants and coffee shops that will enliven and revitalise the area, drawing steady traffic into the precinct.
TNPA has already commenced with updating the design of the jetty as per ECPHRA permit requirements. The final design and feasibility study are expected by October 2019. Thereafter the tender process will get underway. Once a contractor is appointed, the construction phase is expected to take 12 months.
Phase 2 of the Latimer’s Landing development will focus on escalating the project into a fully-fledged waterfront that contributes positively to the growth of the city’s tourism and leisure industry. This will involve efforts to revive the prime site as a bustling leisure and entertainment hub, complete with a number of different restaurants and family-friendly water-related leisure activities. The focus will be on the quayside, adjacent areas as well as upriver on both the East and West Bank sides of the Buffalo River. A more extensive proposal detailing the implementation and management of this exciting development is currently being developed and will be made public soon.
In order for leisure craft to continue operating in front of the main restaurant area, TNPA installed a cam-dock floating jetty as an interim measure. A private charter company currently offers boat rides and whale watching excursions from this jetty.
Sijako added: “We are pleased to report that the proposed revitalisation of Latimer’s Landing enjoys the full and enthusiastic support of numerous stakeholders in the city with whom we will continue to work closely towards the overall development of the city. These include the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality and its various agencies as well as the East London IDZ, both of whom we recently signed an MoU with.”