Southern region’s future ‘looks bright’

With regeneration being the municipality’s latest buzz word, the future of Prospecton and the broader southern business node looks bright.

However, the same cannot be said of the Amanzimtoti CBD, with no immediate plans to regenerate the once flourishing central business hub of Toti.

Following last week’s confirmation of plans to revitalise Isipingo, the Sun queried business roleplayers about similar efforts that are in the pipeline for the rest of the city’s southern node.

Gladwin Malishe, chairman of the Durban South Area Forum, which is a sub-structure of the Durban Chamber of Commerce, said there are plans by various businesses to work together with local authorities to engage in the renewal of the region.

“We believe there is still big potential for the region for future investment, some driven by the proposed Dig-Out Port, Auto Supply Park in Lower Illovo, Isipingo renewal project and Go Durban route,” he said.

“The Auto Supply Park project is one of the catalytic projects spearheaded by the city and provincial government. The impact of the park will exceed expectation for investment targeted, which was in the region of about R11,5-billion. The project will create more than expected employment and give South Durban the lead in terms of ratepayers in the city.

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We see a lot of benefits to small and medium companies playing a big role in the construction and auto supply business. The number cannot be quantified at the moment but we will share the numbers once we have them.”

Regarding the Dig-Out Port, Malishe said the Chamber is in contact with Transnet authorities and they still receive feedback on the progress of the project. “Our next engagement in this regard will be early next year.

Our members are able to ask questions and engage with Transnet on the matter. We are aware that any delay on this project is causing uncertainty to some of our members who might be directly affected by the delay. That is why we are ensuring the channels of engagement and communications are always open. We support the project, as we believe it will bring much-needed economic growth to the region and create job opportunities.

READ ALSO: Isipingo revamp promises to relocate transit camp

Although some of our members might be affected by the delay, we believe Transnet must do this according to the book. The environmental impact assessment must be done accordingly, regardless of time, and we believe every necessary assessment must be allowed to go through, so that we are all happy and satisfied with the progress and the project.”

The Prospecton Business Forum (PBF) welcomes the regeneration initiative undertaken by eThekwini Municipality in Isipingo and Prospecton. “The forum since inception in 2007 has been a consistent advocate for efficient service delivery in the area,” said PBF chairman, Mark van Wyk.

“The forum notes that the latest strategy of the municipality has been to engage directly with individual big businesses in the area, notwithstanding the historical role that the PBF has played in ensuring that the municipality delivered on infrastructure developments since 2014/15 where municipal programmes stalled in Isipingo, as well as service delivery in Prospecton in the absence of the local councillor, since the inception of the forum. This still remains today.

The municipality would do well to revert to their inclusive engagement approach, spearheaded by Shunnon Tulsiram as head of the economic development unit. Through these initiatives, the city embraced all business in South Durban. This resulted in business in general being part of municipal programmes and not a select few.”

Van Wyk said the PBF, which represents business from the Port of Durban to Umkomaas, would welcome similar initiatives across South Durban as it notes the degrading of infrastructure and conditions in areas like Jacobs where the municipality spent millions of rands on upgrades and then proceeded to move on to other areas.

“There has also been a long-standing sincere, direct working relationship between the forum and city,” he said. “We hope the city leadership can realise the importance of an inclusive approach, so that all ratepayers and employers can be part of the good work that the municipality is and intends undertaking in South Durban. Failure to do so will only diminish the impact of all municipal initiatives here, as well as the loss of goodwill built up over the past 10 years.”


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Earl Baillache

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