Ricochet News

IT'S NOT OVER YET - Algoa Bay Yacht Club and TNPA back in PE High Court over eviction

By Jesica Slabbert - Feb 22, 2018
IT'S NOT OVER YET - Algoa Bay Yacht Club and TNPA back in PE High Court over eviction

Following a long legal battle between the Algoa Bay Yacht Club (ABYC) and the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), which issued a notice to the club to vacate the port by the end of this month, it would seem the battle is not over yet.

Transnet Ports Authority said that they  have a High Court order, dated 23 August 2017, that effectively gives them the power to evict the club, which has been based in the port for almost 60 years now.

However, according to the Algoa Bay Yacht Club, they will again be appearing in the Port Elizabeth High Court on Friday.

According to Alan Straton, Chairman of the Algoa Bay Yacht Club, they will be asking the court to rule that Algoa Bay Yacht Club be entitled to continue occupying the premises pending a determination by the Port Regulator on the 20th of March 2018.

He said that the Algoa Bay Yacht Club has since laid a complaint to the Port Regulators over the ‘unfair treatment’ by Transnet Ports Authority.

Straton further explained that the Port Regulator acts as the Ombudsman for Transnet Ports Authority and has, in the past, ruled against Transnet Ports Authority's irregular increase of Port Tariffs, forcing the Transnet Ports Authority to back down and reduce tariffs on more than a few occasions.

“The path to getting a hearing in front of the Port Regulator has been beset with delaying tactics from Transnet Ports Authority - the most severe of which being an eviction order accelerated after the Algoa Bay Yacht Club won the first round in front of the Port Regulator,” said Straton.

It is understood that the eviction and dispute between the club and Transnet Ports Authority centres around rental payment and outstanding debts as Transnet Ports Authority claims that the Algoa Bay Yacht Club owes them a sum of almost R2 million.

Straton said that the Algoa Bay Yacht Club has been attempting to get Transnet Ports Authority in front of the Port Regulator since 2009 when the club submitted a complaint over an unfair 61% rental increase.

He said that the rental dispute between the Transnet Ports Authority and the Algoa Bay Yacht Club then culminated in a draft court order that was granted by the Port Elizabeth High Court in August 2017, which gave the club six months to vacate the premises.

Straton said that the Algoa Bay Yacht Club responded to the unexpected eviction order thereby resurrecting the previous Port Regulator complaint and the parties met at a pre-hearing on 29 August 2017.

He said that “more stalling tactics” saw Transnet Ports Authority challenging the Port Regulator’s authority to hear the matter as it was a lease matter and not a tariff matter.

Both parties returned to Durban on 20 October 2017 and presented reasons why the Port Regulator did or did not have jurisdiction over the matter.

Straton explained that in a victory for the Algoa Bay Yacht Club, the Port Regulator released its findings on 31 January 2018 asserting the Regulator's rights to hear the matter.

He said that informal and formal attempts by the Algoa Bay Yacht Club to settle the matter after this were ignored, “with threats escalating until 17 February when the Transnet Ports Authority  released a statement to the media”.

The Algoa Bay Yacht Club, who are also seeking urgent hearing in front of the Port Regulator for a final decision on this long outstanding issue, are now going to challenge the statement and its terms.

“It is the Algoa Bay Yacht Club’s contention that they qualify for a sporting club rental discount from the Transnet Ports Authority and that the continued occupation of the land by the club serves as a focal point for the proposed PE Waterfront along with attracting local, regional, national and international regattas to the city, which, in turn provide much needed tourism revenue to the city,” Straton described.