eThekwini Municipality: Creating the perfect environment

Blending the past with the fast-pace and technology of a thriving modern city is no easy matter. Adding in the demands for infrastructure development, eThekwini Municipality has accomplished much from its ‘2010 and Beyond’ programme.

leadImage_leadimageEThekwini Municipality is a Category A municipality located within KwaZulu-Natal. Durban is the largest city within the province and the third largest in the country and is home to roughly 3.5 million people.

With beautiful countryside, battlefields and rich history, along with the stunning coastline, have made Durban a popular tourist spot. Tourism is certainly one of the region’s biggest revenue drivers, but the municipality has also worked hard to develop international trade links through the multi-billion rand Dube Tradeport and the Durband International Convention Centre, whilst sporting arenas have attracted other visitors to this vibrant area.

Commenting on the objectives of the area, James Nxumalo, Executive Mayor said in the Durban guide ‘Return to Paradise and its People’:

“The face of Durban has changed dramatically over the past few years due to the massive investments in infrastructure upgrade that were kick-started ahead of the 2010 Fifa World Cup(TM).

“Our transport system is undergoing continuous improvements and access into and out of the city has improved with the construction of fly-over bridges and dedicated lanes for public transport vehicles. We have the brand new King Shaka International Airport, located in one of the most beautiful landscapes of any airport in the world, and part of the expansive Dube Tradeport project which encourages export trade.

“Areas outside of central Durban are also receiving attention, with construction taking place at an accelerated pace from Hammersdale to Inanda, Umhlanga and Amanzimtoti. Development of formerly black townships is also progressing in order to bring formerly disadvantaged citizens in to the mainstream of economic activity in eThekwini. These plans are part of the City’s 2010 and beyond Strategy.

“When the Municipality was planning for the 2010 World Cup, it did not just focus on the tournament but tried to ensure that infrastructural improvements would leave a lasting legacy and improve the quality of life for its residents. Beyond the World Cup, these facilities, together with the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention centre and Ushaka Marine World, have helped Durban to receive global recognition as Africa’s sporting and events capital.

“We are a diverse African city that is focused on citywide investments, growing our economy and creating a better quality of life. In Durban we play hard and we work hard. It’s not a coincidence that we attract so many local and international tourists on a daily basis. We are a growing urban setting, rich in diversity, cultural amenities and outdoor recreational opportunities.”

The Municipality has created a vision and by 2030 wants Durban to enjoy the reputation of being Africa’s most caring and liveable city, where all citizens live in harmony. To help achieve this, the administration has assembled a list of core values: sustainability, creating an economically successful city that is caring, smart and reduces poverty, whilst creating a democratic and equal city.

Part of the strategy to achieve its vision involves a number of initiatives managed by the Economic Development Projects Department, located in the eThekwini Economic Development and Investment Promotion Unit.

Among the projects finalized by the department are: the Isipingo Town Centre Regeneration; Verulam Town Centre Regeneration; Tongaat Town Centre Regeneration; Umlazi V-section node including Umlazi Mega City; the KwaMashu Town Centre development; Bridge City development and the Cato Manor node.

In recent years many of South Africa’s major cities have seen an influx of migrants from rural areas, seeking work opportunities. This has put an enormous strain on existing housing and Government services.

In May, Mayor James Nxumalo visited the Khayelisha informal settlement near Clairwood, where about 240 shacks were razed by a fire leaving over 5,00 people homeless. Mayor Nxumalo mobilised resources to assist residents who were provided with emergency relief aid, including food parcels and blankets.

The Municipality together with the Provincial Department of Human Settlements also provided building material that was supplied to residents to rebuild their dwellings. Officials from the Municipality’s Human Settlements Department were on hand to assist residents to rebuild their shacks in an orderly manner so that spaces could be created to allow access into the area. Furthermore, the Municipality has supplied a marquee to temporarily accommodate residents until they are all able to rebuild their shacks.

The Mayor sympathized with the victims and emphasized that the Municipality was doing its best to provide basic services to its citizens.

Another key area of ongoing commitment for local government is economic development. On May 16th EThekwini Municipality launched the Enterprise Development Strategy at the Marine Parade Hotel, to develop Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) in the eThekwini Region.

This coincided with the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding where about 15 big businesses committed themselves to uplifting small businesses and to enhance their businesses skills.

This initiative is the first of its kind to be undertaken by any South African Municipality and is seen as a great potential to increase job creation and bring more black entrepreneurs into the mainstream economy.

Deputy Mayor of eThekwini, Councillor Nomvuzo Shabalala said that small businesses are the future of the country as they are crucial contributors to the City’s economy.

“We are aware that this critical sector of our economy is also the one that is most vulnerable to sector challenges ranging from access to funding, access to markets, lack of proper skills to run a business and many other issues which have a negative impact on their ability to grow and be sustainable. Hence why through the Business Support, Markets and Tourism Unit, the Municipality has put in place a number of interventions that seek to empower, open opportunities and give guidance to the SMME sector,” said Shabalala.

Deputy City Manager of Sustainable Development and City Enterprises, Dr Naledi Moyo Ndwandwe reiterated that the Enterprise Development Strategy will assist in dealing with social ills such as the high rate of unemployment and poverty.

Senior Manager of Business Intelligence and Product Quality in the Business Support, Tourism and Markets Unit, Dr Anneline Chetty said that Enterprise Development has been identified as a potential avenue to drive the required economic growth.

“The proposed strategy aims to address the need to stimulate the use of enterprise development within the eThekwini Municipality, by repackaging qualifying eThekwini business support programmes that require investment from corporate in the form of cash, equity or business mentorship, training and support services. These programmes will then be ring-fenced, verified and marketed to corporate on a platform to facilitate investment. There will be a specific focus on Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs).”

The Deputy Mayor extended her gratitude to the following companies already on board, namely; Sapref, Eskom, Enablis, Toyota, Anglo American, Transnet, Goodersen Leisure, Artisan Skills Academy, Ithala, Absa, Plascon, PMB Business Centre, Rainbow, Shanduka Black Umbrellas and Bosch. She also pleaded with other companies to come on board and contribute to the economic growth of the city.

Such moves underline the growing links between the public and private sector and highlight the opportunities that collaboration can create. For eThekwini Municipality, a government with lofty ambitions, the sky remains the limit.