Passenger ships banned from docking at V&A Waterfront

The City of Cape Town is concerned about the impact of a home affairs ban on passenger ships docking at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town.

At least 13 cruise ships including the Silver Wind, National Geographic Explorer and Queen Mary are scheduled to visit Cape Town between January and May 2012 but a recent ruling by the department of home affairs means that cruise liners will have to dock in Duncan Dock with immediate effect.

“We are obviously uneasy about the possible impact of this ruling on Cape Town’s status and reputation as a cruise tourism destination as well as on tourism revenues to the city,” mayoral committee member for tourism events and marketing Grant Pascoe said.

Pascoe said the city had noted concerns about security risks underlying the decision.

“We will discuss the ruling with the relevant authorities to find a way to best serve Cape Town’s tourism interests, without compromising the status of the port as a secured area,” he said.

‘Security hawks’
In 2011, some 19 visiting cruise ships accounted for approximately 18 000 visitors to the V&A Waterfront.

Industry expert and shipping commentator Brian Ingpen said in the Cape Times newspaper on Friday that “security hawks” have torpedoed one of the world’s greatest cruise liner berths.

“Tariq Mellet, director of immigration in the Western Cape, apparently informed Sars (South African Revenue Service) Customs and Border Management in December that the ministers of home affairs and public enterprises had decided that, because of security consideration and home affairs regulations, passenger vessels may not berth at the Waterfront, but must be accommodated in the Duncan Dock,” Ingpen wrote.

He said home affairs apparently did not regard the number two jetty as a legitimate entry point, “yet passengers have been embarking and disembarking there for over 100 years, and numerous other vessels, including international yachts, berth there”.

He said at the time of writing his comment, “few shipping folks knew of this step, and were obviously not consulted beforehand”.

Far-reaching decision
“It appears that the port authorities were instructed to comply with the decision and one wonders whether they had been consulted.

“As he seems to be the originator of the news, Mr Mellet should let us know whether there is an imminent threat to cruise liners at the Waterfront, and he should divulge whom the illustrious ministers consulted before they made this curious and far-reaching decision,” Ingpen said.

“An ideal berth for cruise liners up to 200 metres, Number Two Jetty is close to the Waterfront shops and restaurants where passengers collectively spend millions.

“Perhaps the ministers could also tell us whether the Duncan Dock, Durban, or any harbour is safer than the Waterfront, given that yachts, fishing vessels and numerous ships pass close to cruise liners wherever they berth.”—Sapa

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