4 Mar 2020

The Durban Aerotropolis forms part of the ambitious KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Growth and Development Strategy (PGDS) to boost the region’s economic activity, by increasing accessibility to regional areas and supporting the development of surrounding municipalities. The 32,000-hectare special economic zone, with King Shaka International Airport (KSIA) as its nucleus, is expected to create 750,000 permanent jobs, offer 42 million square metres of business space, and accommodate 1.5 million residents.

With an investment potential of R1 trillion, the “airport city” will be the premier business and trade hub between Durban and Richards Bay. It will feature next-generation “Smart City”-type urban amenities, multimodal transportation and logistics platforms, business parks, and a range of residential opportunities, including quality affordable housing.

Expected to boost regional GDP growth by between 3% and 6% over the next 50 years, the Durban Aerotropolis will help to drive economic transformation and improve the connectivity of the region around the international airport.

Securing buy-in

The Durban Aerotropolis is one of the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development, Tourism, and Environmental Affairs’ (EDTEA’s) five strategic pillars. Its success depends on the involvement and cooperation of numerous stakeholders, including the EDTEA, the eThekwini and KwaDukuza municipalities, airport management company Airports Company South Africa, other State-owned enterprises, like Sanral, Transnet, and PRASA, as well as business chambers and community organisations.

However, KZN EDTEA needed additional capacity to implement the Integrated Aerotropolis Strategy (IAS) that was adopted by Provincial Cabinet in 2014. It invited tenders for the establishment of a fully-fledged Durban Aerotropolis Management Unit (DAMU).

In 2016, Royal HaskoningDHV South Africa was awarded a three-year tender to serve as the DAMU, as an extension of the KZN EDTEA’s capacity.

The Royal HaskoningDHV team, led by Gideon Treurnich in close collaboration with sub-consultant and partner Victor Radebe from TT Projects, successfully fulfilled this role for the three-year period. Our goal was to develop a high-quality Management Unit (AMU) that would support stakeholders and enhance the capacity of the EDTEA to successfully implement the economically important IAS.

One of the key achievements during this period was the development of the Durban Aerotropolis Master Plan by HATCH that would form part of the KZN Integrated Aerotropolis Strategy (IAS). The DAMU played a key role in facilitating, coordinating, and managing a large stakeholder base.

The Durban Aerotropolis Management Unit (AMU)

We started by defining the work of the AMU, which included a core team from Royal HaskoningDHV. Responsibilities identified were:

  • The provision of secretariat services,
  • Supporting the implementation of Aerotropolis projects,
  • Providing a project management system to monitor and report on all implementation projects, and
  • Reviewing the IAS to ensure it becomes a tool for action and economic, spatial, and social transformation.

A key focus area was continuous stakeholder engagement, to ensure their buy-in. To this end, we coordinated an integrated stakeholder management programme, which also facilitated the development of the Durban Aerotropolis Master Plan.

By the time the project concluded in 2019, Royal HaskoningDHV had successfully delivered the updates to the IAS and guidelines for the implementation of aerotropolis projects, as well as guidelines and a marketing strategy for engaging stakeholders.

Royal HaskoningDHV also developed an interim public transport link solution between KSIA and the Durban CBD. Cornubia Bridge formed a crucial part of this solution. Connecting the town centres of Umhlanga Ridge and Cornubia, the bridge’s eight traffic lanes, including two Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lanes, and two pedestrian sidewalks across the N2 highway, alleviates traffic congestion and creates easier access to the freeway.