Change the world

Ocean Sciences

09/04/2018

This article, by Peter Myles - tourism specialist and chairman of the NMB Maritime Cluster – appeared in The Herald of 4 April 2018. 
For hundreds of years Port Elizabeth was referred to on navigational charts only as “a landing place with fresh water”.

Have the people of Port Elizabeth inherited a “backwater” mentality? Great cities attract tourists. People are attracted to cities with a positive image and high profile.

The image of a city is a reflection of the spirit of its residents and the unique features of that city.

Port Elizabeth has the following unique features: a city of firsts; a compact city, that is airport, seaport, railway station, accommodation, sports fields and stadium all in close proximity; Settlers Park and the Baakens Valley is a green lung in the middle of a five-biome city; Algoa Bay is a perfect bay for all water-sports and a marine biodiversity hotspot; 14 beaches spread over 40km of diverse coastline offer foreign and domestic tourists a choice of swimming, boating and recreational activities.

We should be celebrating our uniqueness.

Port Elizabeth has a long and colourful history, which includes the influences of many famous people.

Considered a warm and unassuming city, Port Elizabeth boasts a rich heritage formed by people from a multitude of different cultural groups.

The town boasted a diverse community of European, Cape Malay and other immigrants, and when the railway to Kimberley was built in 1873, it caused the town to grow rapidly. In 1861 Port Elizabeth was granted the status of an autonomous municipality. In 1836 it was made a free warehousing port and in 1837 the capital of a small adjacent district.

The prosperity of the port, followed by the construction of railways to the interior, earned for the port the designation of “the Liverpool of South Africa”.

The Port Elizabeth harbour became the focal point of strong growth in Port Elizabeth and by the 1860s it was the second largest city in the Cape Colony and one of the most important ports.

This changed with the discovery of gold and diamonds in the South African interior and the financial centre moving to the Witwatersrand, with Durban and Maputo’s ports becoming more active.

It was a major seaport with the most significant ore-loading facilities in the southern hemisphere.

After decades of proposals, promises and postponements, Port Elizabeth is likely to see construction of its long-mooted waterfront development begin within the city’s harbour next year.

The idea of a waterfront development had been touted by a succession of Nelson Mandela Bay municipal leadership and development experts.

The relocation of the manganese ore dumps and fuel tank farm opens the door for inward investment opportunities.

Not only will the move unlock the tourism and ocean economy potential of the region, but it will also result in road, rail and maritime activities in Nelson Mandela Bay getting a major boost in terms of service contracts and employment opportunities.

Transnet, as part of the pre-feasibility studies, is also making considerations for all the necessary architectural work, engineering designs, and environmental and commercial studies to ensure optimal use of the land.

Transnet will also call for proposals for the development, construction and operation of the facility.

The opportunity for Port Elizabeth to move from mediocrity to greatness has arrived.

With its rich maritime history and world class Ocean Sciences Campus, Nelson Mandela University (NMU) is primed to become the most relevant ocean sciences and maritime university in Africa.

NMU is also host to both the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI), and Chair of Law of the Sea and Development in Africa.

Contact information
Ms Zandile Mbabela
Media Manager
Tel: 0415042777
Zandile.Mbabela@mandela.ac.za