PROGRESS is being made in the City of uMhlathuze's plans to relocate the Richards Bay Airport. This comes as the draft feasibility study for the relocation plan nears completion.

City of uMhlathuze spokesperson Bongani Gina said the next step in the process is the issuing of a notice between November and December, that the feasibility study be considered by council 'in compliance with the prescribed regulatory time frame'. "During this prescribed period, comments from identified stakeholders are considered and thereafter the feasibility study will be submitted for final council consideration.

"A resolution from council is needed to initiate phase two of the process, which is procurement," said Gina. There have been ongoing plans to move the airport from its current location to a location close to the N2. It has previously been stated that the proposed development aims to align with the national development plan, the Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone's 50-year plan and the Port of Richards Bay's expansion. “Council appointed a Transaction Advisor to conduct a Feasibility Study for the proposed relocation and redevelopment of Richards Bay Airport.

"The Transaction Advisor has followed the required Public Finance Management Act PFMA Regulations governing Public Private Partnerships PPPs for the project and the prescribed process included, amongst others, a Needs Analysis, Options Analysis, Due Diligence and Value Assessment. "During the process, council has been receiving technical support from the government technical advisory centre as well as the support team from KwaZulu-Natal treasury and financial support from Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs," said Gina.

The airport, which currently operates the route between Richards Bay and OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, has been cited as a critical component to the growth of the city and region's economy. City Mayor Xolani Ngwezi said in September last year that the airport development has been linked to economic growth. "Generally, airports facilitate tourism and trade, provide jobs, and increase revenues from taxes.

Critical medical supplies and organ transplants are also done effectively via air transport. "Therefore, airports go beyond furthering the local economic development of the city and contribute significantly to regional development, they play a crucial role in other sectors, such as health," Ngwezi said at the reopening of the airport.


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