Port of Saldanha.

The Saldanha Bay Industrial Development Zone (SBIDZ) could soon be formally set up as a state-owned enterprise, after an application to be brought before the Western Cape cabinet.

The IDZ was officially launched by President Jacob Zuma in 2013, and although it was initially managed by Wesgro preparations are under way for it to be established as a public entity separate from Wesgro. Saldanha Bay is strategically located to operate as a service, maintenance, fabrication and supply hub for the booming African oil and gas sector.

Tabling his department’s annual reports before the Western Cape parliament’s standing committee on economic development and tourism last week, Economic Opportunities MEC Alan Winde revealed that he was hoping to make the application before the end of the year to establish the SBIDZ as an independent public entity.

“We will then go ahead with the legislation to formally set up Saldanha Bay IDZ as a state-owned enterprise,” he said.

Opposition MPLs questioned the timing of the move, to which Winde responded by saying the IDZ had already started operating independently in April last year, and although Wesgro is the 100 percent shareholder, the Saldanha Bay licensing company transferred control in February when two Wesgro directors resigned and were replaced by a board of six newly appointed representatives.

In the interest of good governance the chairperson of the Saldanha Bay licensing company board would have a seat on the Wesgro board.

Wesgro chief executive Tim Harris clarified why the committee had two annual reports, one for Wesgro, the other for SBIDZ, saying the auditor-general had given an opinion that even though Wesgro is a shareholder in the IDZ on behalf of the province, practically Wesgro did not have control over the entity.

Giving an update on developments at the IDZ, Winde stressed that the initiative is driven by national, provincial and local government.

“We are looking at 56 000 jobs, R180bn investment in the next 15 years, while in the next five years R7bn will be pumped into the project.

“There are more than 40 companies that want to get on board.”

Winde said it was the province’s role to put legislation in place to set the IDZ up “as an actual licensed entity.”

He said Wesgro would continue to play a role in facilitating investment into the IDZ. “At the moment the licensing company is spending money that comes from DTI, putting the infrastructure in place.

Provincial public works are putting roads infrastructure in place and the municipality is putting sewerage infrastructure in place.”

Winde said the entity itself required legislation to be drafted and passed.

“It has not gone to cabinet yet, but we are trying hard through the legal services, through interaction with our partners being DTI, IDZ, Transnet, the local authority and the licensing company to agree on the legislation.”

ANC MPL Siyazi Tyamtyam said the Saldanha IDZ was part of a national initiative, under Operation Phakisa, aimed at unlocking the economic potential of the oceans. “National will still play a major role.

“It is one of their projects, but all spheres of government will be working closely together,” adding that the ANC would keep a close eye on developments.

The annual report also stated that a R140m tender had been awarded to a local, black-owned company.

“Engineering design services were secured for five projects, including the internal road, water, electricity and sewerage network.

“The first large construction tender, to the value of R140m, was awarded and includes a 27% share of work allocated to West Coast-based construction companies,” the report read.