The DA will continue to fight against potentially life-altering changes to the Durban North region as the ANC forces through a massive Virginia Airport redevelopment.
High-density housing, hotels, a mixed-use commercial node, a theme park and even motorsports are just some of the proposals being mooted for the Virginia Airport site. The ramifications for the greater Durban North community are potentially huge – with the additional traffic, electricity and sewerage demands crippling an already compromised system.
Tabled at this week’s full council meeting, the Virginia Airport redevelopment proposal has again been kick started by soliciting developers to give proposals for the site. The value of the jobs created and direct spend in the region has been seemingly ignored by the ANC – which is on record as saying the development must proceed with haste and in the spirit of “radical economic transformation”.
The relocation of the airport and its flight schools and operators seems to also be off the table, with officials first looking for “compelling economic reasons” to fund relocation. What will happen to the emergency services helicopters that are fundamental in saving the lives of the citizens of eThekwini?
Whereas economic development is certainly supported – it would seem the ANC is intent on closing down its only niche regional airport without a relocation plan that the DA has been fighting for. At least 20 aviation-related businesses who are primary supporters of the tourism industry, as well as pilot training and other commercial related activities, may close forever.
The argument that the Virginia Airport is costing the city money is an absolute farce.
This is evident in the millions which the ANC has spent on white elephants like the Moses Mabhida Stadium and Ushaka Marine World.
Durban North does not need another high-end development on an already environmentally sensitive strip of land such as Virginia. Instead of lamenting the relatively small cost of maintaining the airport – the city should get with the programme and strengthen and grow its aviation sector.
Unfortunately, the ANC has a proven track record of steamrolling through decisions in their eternal haste to sell or rent off every land parcel. But even here, the ghost of Jacob Zuma and his radical economic transformation agenda lingers.