Time has run out for one of South Africa's top yacht clubs, which is being turfed out of a landmark site in Port Elizabeth harbour. The Algoa Bay Yacht Club this week lost a court bid to stave off an eviction order from Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), a division of the state-owned corporation in charge of the country's commercial harbours, the Herald newspaper reports.
The club has been unable to keep up with rental payments since TNPA hiked the rate based on 'market-related' prices. But in terms of a High Court order this week, the club must now hand over all club buildings and reclaimed land it has managed for the past 60 years.
“It will be a huge wrench to hand over the club buildings and land reclaimed that was paid for by member subscriptions over 60 years,” club commodore and chairman Alan Straton told the Herald.
TNPA insists the yacht club is not commercially viable and last year advertised for a supplier to run a restaurant and bar on the site.
TNPA spokeswoman Marjorie Makama told the Herald the parastatal would continue to support sailing and the yachting community. “We further reiterate that yachting and leisure boating are very much part of the TNPA’s Smart Peoples Port strategy,” Makama said.
Algoa Bay Yacht Club is not the only South African sailing club faced with eviction. Last year IBI reported on the similar fate of the Mossel Bay Yacht and Boat Club which is fighting to keep both their club site and their marina. The club has also mounted a legal challenge backed by the majority of its members.
South African recreational watersports clubs have historically enjoyed preferential rental agreements due to their public service. But Transnet is seeking to change this arrangement right along the coast, citing the need to standardise rentals for prime coastal sites along strict commercial lines.