The Saldanha Bay Municipality has set out a vision for the municipality to have a “Smart Future through Excellence” and under my leadership, the municipality has been making sure that the foundations and building blocks are being put into place to make this a reality.
With the recent media announcements about the threatened future of the ArcelorMittal South Africa (AMSA) plant in Saldanha Bay, government stakeholders including the municipality, the Saldanha Bay IDZ (SBIDZ) and Wesgro have come together, under the initiative and leadership of the Western Cape Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, David Maynier, to form a task team focusing all their efforts on mitigating the impact of a possible closure of the plant.
The aim of the task team is to ensure all stakeholders invested in the success of Saldanha Bay and the West Coast region are in frequent contact to minimise the impact of any possible AMSA plant closure, support the workers affected and continue to drive the growth of the economy and create jobs in the region. To this end, the Saldanha Bay Municipality has been meeting regularly as part of the task team.
The task team are actively working on the following:
· Identifying possible buyers of the AMSA plant and supporting the Department of Trade and Industry in encouraging AMSA to consider these, and other options, for the plant,
· looking at measures to make sure that the workers and businesses who may be affected by the possible closure have access to the necessary information and support to help them adjust and transition quickly to new jobs or economic opportunities, and
· accelerating efforts to attract investors into the Saldanha Bay IDZ and into the wider municipality.
On the latter, we are really pleased that the construction of the facility of a local investor, West Coast Corrosion Protection, began in earnest this past month.
Based in White City in the town of Saldanha Bay, the workshop will see West Coast Corrosion Protection (WCCP) nearly double their workforce, as they position themselves to grow their already established business with the support of the SBIDZ and the SEZ Fund in the SEZ Programme.
As a small, local company in the corrosion protection and support services industry, WCCP services a range of marine vessels in a number of ports across South Africa. Their new facility will provide a necessary base to expand their value and service offering, and in an SEZ dedicated to the maritime industry, will open doors to new markets and customers.
Next year, construction on two more tenant buildings at the SBIDZ will begin, heralding a pivotal moment in the SBIDZ’s journey as it becomes a real and firm fixture on the West Coast skyline. One can already feel the change the new improved road networks, the Access Complex and the serviced port land has signalled.
In addition to other investment projects within the wider Saldanha Bay Municipal area, as the only Free Port in South Africa, the development of the SBIDZ is key to unlocking the industrialisation potential of the West Coast, and Saldanha in particular.
The SBIDZ has, to date, signed 11 lease agreements with an investment value of over R3billion. An investment pipeline of 60 investors continues to be explored, with a selection of key potential investments in active conversation.
Skills programmes initiated in the SBIDZ that focus on enterprise and contractor development have created a total of 2,199 individual training opportunities with 88% of learners having already graduated.
As the Saldanha Bay Municipality, we will continue to work closely with the national and provincial government, the SBIDZ, Wesgro and local businesses to do what we can, not only to actively mitigate the impact of any company withdrawals in the region, but also to realise the enormous economic potential in Saldanha Bay.