Amazon headquarters continue to be developed until court hearing says otherwise

Amazon’s operations for its Amazon Web Services division and its eCommerce marketplace division – which is looking to launch in February next year – continue to grow in South Africa. The online giant hopes to develop a headquarters in Cape Town, where most of its operations run. However, the development of the R4.6bn River Club complex has faced a few hurdles along the way. The developers failed to realise that the land which they were developing was considered to be sacred for some First Nations groups and the development had to be halted. Although not all Khoisan groups oppose the project, the development is facing pushback anyway. These obstacles could result in Amazon, which is already losing patience, pulling out of the project altogether, which could potentially cost thousands of jobs and be incredibly expensive for the developers. But for the time being, Liesbeek Leisure Properties Trust can continue with development until the appeal hearing on 11 and 12 October. One of the groups objecting to the development, the Observatory Civic Association, is having a town hall meeting on 27 September to discuss the River Club development. More in this article from MyBroadband. – Ross Sinclair

Second victory for Amazon’s new headquarters in South Africa

By Hanno Labuschagne

The developers behind the R4.6-billion multi-purpose River Club complex in Cape Town that will house Amazon’s new headquarters in South Africa have scored another victory against opponents of the development.

On Tuesday, Judge MJ Dolamo struck an application for an interdict against ongoing construction at the site off of the Western Cape High Court roll, ruling that it lacked urgency.

The Observatory Civic Association (OCA) had approached the court to obtain an urgent interdict against the developer — Liesbeek Leisure Properties Trust (LLPT) — to stop its work at the site.

That came after Judge Patricia Goliath previously ordered LLPT to halt construction at the site pending “meaningful” consultation with groups claiming to represent indigenous people impacted by the development.

After Goliath also struck down LLPT’s application for leave to appeal her ruling, the developer applied to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA), which agreed to hear its appeal application.

LLPT has maintained that it can continue work at the site until the outcome of this appeal is heard by a full bench of the Western Cape High Court on 11 and 12 October 2022.

LLPT described the ruling as a win for the hundreds of workers currently on site.

“Pending the outcome of this hearing, the work on site continues lawfully,” LLPT said.

The developer previously warned that Amazon was running out of patience with delays to the project.

At the time, LLPT spokesperson and trustee James Tannenberger said the company had been advised that further delays could push progress back between 12 and 24 months.

“Any such delay would almost certainly see Amazon Development Centre (ADC) terminating the development agreement and the lease agreements, as it would be entitled to do. Indeed, even a reduced delay of six months will result in termination by ADC,” said Tannenberger.

Amazon had already agreed to reset the practical completion date and its lease commencement date.

Failure to meet these newly agreed-upon dates could result in a penalty of R450,000 payable to Amazon per day that the project is behind schedule.

In addition, LLPT would have to pay R115 million for standing time to contractor WBHO and a further R23 million to Rand Merchant Bank in cancelled loan agreements penalties.

The developers, Western Cape government, and Cape Town metro have also warned that failure to realise the development could cost thousands of jobs in the long run.

In addition to striking the interdict off the roll, Judge Dolamo granted the elders and tribe members of the Goringhaicona Khoi Khoin Indigenous Traditional Council (GKKITC) — another group representing indigenous people from the area — leave to intervene in the appeal application.

The GKKITC supports the development and has challenged the leader of one of the opposition groups — Tauriq Jenkins — and his attorney’s authority to represent them.

The GKKITC has also applied to the Western Cape High Court to have all matters against the River Club development withdrawn.

Another group supporting the development — the Western Cape First Nations Collective — clashed with Jenkins and the OCA outside court in July 2022, calling them traitors and brandishing posters with slogans such as “The River Club Supports Khoi Heritage” and “Khoi Welcome Amazon”.

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