PASBHC
The Board of the Port Alfred Small Boat Harbour responded to accusations aired about them regarding the future of the entity. Image: Google Maps

The Board of the Port Alfred Smallboat Harbour Company (PASBHC), who has been accused of among other a lack of communication regarding the future of the harbour and its surrounds has issued the following communique on Thursday evening.

“We stand accused of failing to communicate the current events and our future plans for the Harbour and issue this narrative against a backdrop of pending litigation and concerns expressed by the public. The need to communicate our direction is as important to ourselves in that we too require a clear direction.  We should guard against creating excessive short-term expectations as many legal, environmental and procedural hurdles must still be navigated.

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A time of reflection

“It’s easy to stumble forwards in a direction that we believe to be good, but unless we have a clear vision of our exact hoped for endgame, we can only hope to reach a defined destination.

Whilst we have dismissed recent attacks we believed were orchestrated to discredit our endeavours, we must welcome them as a reminder that at the end of the day, we are always answerable to the citizens of the town we serve. The truth is that, with our exciting plans for the future of our Harbour, we have held back on attention to the obvious day to day work necessary. It was always intended to be included in our wonderful plan.  We have forgotten that for good reason, this plan has not been communicated and all the public sees now is deterioration.

“So the cosmetic work to keep the public happy in the interim is in full swing. The ugly shed is gone, as is the foreign jetty that somehow materialised.  New slats and floating drums to the walkways are being installed, the painting will start shortly and the straightening process by adjustment to mooring chains will follow. No harm in cleaning up untidy bumpers at the same time.  The cost of this interim work is minimal and our detractors are thanked for giving us the push that we needed.

So what are these great plans?    

“The PASBHC was approached last year by Umcinga Enterprises (Pty) Ltd, a BEE company with excellent credentials and access to substantial capital, with a request to re-develop the restaurant and pub on the harbour peninsula, previously occupied by the Spur. A concept proposal, known as “Back to Prosperity”, was drawn up on their behalf. This rebirth of the old Barnacles, with new twists, was well received by Council and all. It would have been in business by now if not for the presence of the unlawful occupier of the premises. (Copy of Proposal available on request)

“Sadly the law works slowly.  This is even more so if the process is not performed with precision and by the very best legal exponents. The problems of using local Eastern Cape legal fraternity needs no commentary, therefore, we were obliged to import a team.  At the time of writing careful preparation and briefing to ensure success has been completed and papers in the various matters are almost ready to be served.

In brief, phase 1 of litigation has the following objectives:

  • Transfer PAMCOR to PASBHC – The necessary formalities to transfer PAMCOR, together with its principle Notarial Lease over the entire Harbour precinct, into the ownership of PASBHC. This will ensure the future responsible management of the facility, by a competent team of unpaid directors whose only motivation is the welfare of our Town.
  • The eviction of the present unlawful occupier of the old Spur building, who, through complicity with others to be investigated, has succeeded in unjust enrichment from this public facility for decades.
  • The cancellation of what the PASBHC allege was an unlawful transaction, where the prime locations on the harbour were acquired by the same individual at negligible cost if any at all?

“It will become evident that the delays in legal formalities have had positive value as it has given the PASBHC the opportunity to apply their minds and attention to beyond the restaurant pub premises, and to the entire facility for which we are responsible.

“An explanation is necessary at this stage.  The initial Notarial Lease over the harbour was an onerous document that placed heavy responsibilities and financial obligations on the Developer, PAMCOR.  Little, or no benefits accrued as a special condition prohibited any profit whatsoever to the Lessee.   Various sub-leases, legitimate and otherwise, followed, where these obligations and responsibilities were intended to be shared among other participants. The consequences contribute to the current situation now described.

“An honest appraisal of the harbour would reveal a hotchpotch assembly of buildings erected with no overall plan of aesthetics, continuity or relevance to one another.  Some have deteriorated embarrassingly while another sad structure appears to be one individual’s private toy box?  The collapse of the seawall between the land and the promenade is a serious threat to life and the terrible state of the roads doesn’t help!  The overall impression is most certainly not what the Board wish to portray in the town.

“We must never lose sight of the reality that we are blessed with one of the most beautiful rivers, harbours and sea launch facilities in our country. As de facto custodians, it is our responsibility to maximise this gift for the benefit of all.”

Ok, so get back to the great plans and in doing so must acknowledge Mr Kiyosaki, “Inside of every problem lies an opportunity.”

“There is no question, we need to start afresh and to do so, and we need a clean canvass. Our foremost objectives must never be forgotten. We wish to attract tourism and wealth to our town, and we must create employment and business opportunities, to benefit as many as possible of our community.

“The various sub-leases and claims to occupancy require careful scrutiny. Those questionable need to be questioned. The proprietors of those legitimate need to be engaged and persuaded to become part of a joint initiative. To the extent that it is possible, existing structures should be substantially refurbished to incorporate a common theme.

“New conceptual plans are to be prepared from afresh. They should include our entire area of responsibility. Space is to be maximised by addition of overhanging boardwalks. Existing structures are to be included where possible to arrive at our ultimate vision – An entirely new Port Alfred Waterfront.

“Theme line shops and eateries such as in the Knysna Waterfront should stand side by side commercial enterprises and activities, as described hereunder. These should mirror the San Francisco Boardwalk.  A new pattern of roads, walkways, tour bus and private parking must somehow be accommodated.

“Commercial enterprises and activities are divided into two related categories.  In association with the Knysna Oyster enterprise, and the St Francis Bay chokka fishing fleet, it is anticipated that Port Alfred will become the new centre of seafood specialities. Goodbye to the South African expectation of a seafood meal comprising only frozen fish, imported prawns and calamari.

“A study in China of micro aquaculture enterprises has revealed the opportunity to establish small tide circulated pools, where, with no environmental impact, mini-enterprises are able to produce a wide variety of crustaceans and seafood specialities.  We hope to enlist and formalise our existing commercial fishermen to contribute finfish and benefit from a new central marketing framework.

“The second initiative would be in likewise fashion, to formalise, and add to our existing pleasure boat operators. New standards of safety and appearance will be required of vessels offering more than pleasure cruises up the river. We envisage rides to sea, whale watching, swimming with dolphins, as well as deep sea fishing safaris.

“The new Barnacles will become known as the ultimate destination for indulgence in the largest variety of fresh from the sea delicacies.  It will showcase the industry that produces and wholesales this source of wealth.

“Discussions with tour operators have confirmed that the gravy train of tour buses that bring considerable wealth to the Garden Route will no longer do a U-turn in Port Elisabeth, but continue to Port Alfred, lured by such an attraction. The prosperity that this brings will extend beyond the Harbour, to our struggling hotel industry, and to the entire town.

“It must be emphasised that these goals will not be instantly achieved. As important as the destination, is the planned route.”

The Board has extended an invitation to all who have additional ideas to contribute, or wish to be involved in any way with this initiative, to contact Conrad at 083 306 3037 or conradwinterbach@gmail.com

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