How to make a city

2011-08-27 16:20

Daantjie settlement is a mishmash of buildings. Along its main tarred road is a haphazard arrangement of modest and posh houses interrupted by small businesses.

This relic of apartheid’s homeland system is a densely populated and crime-infested rural area about 40km outside Nelspruit.

But things are about to change.

A city worth an estimated R2 billion will be built from scratch on its doorstep starting from about June next year.

Nkosi City – named after local chief Sicelo Nkosi – will be established on about 1 000ha of land, west of the Kruger National Park.

A joint effort by government and the private sector, its drivers say the development will improve the community’s living standards by creating jobs and introducing services for which they now have to travel to Nelspruit.

It will offer a mix of RDP houses, bonded houses and rented apartments (see graphic).

Mandla Msibi, a councillor from Mbombela, says: “These are the kinds of human settlements we should build, where people have jobs and spend five minutes getting to work.”

Developer Philip Kleijnhans, of Johannesburg-based Dovetail Properties, likens Nkosi City to Cosmo City outside Johannesburg.

“The entire Nkosi City development is a major upliftment project for a disenfranchised community.”

Daantjie was selected for the development because of the availability of land and a proposed new gate into the Kruger National Park, to be called Mandela Gate.

Jobs will be created through various business co-operatives, starting with a youth construction co-operative that will be involved in the construction of houses and buildings.

A company to oversee economic activities will be established and will consist of Dovetail Properties and the community trust as equal shareholders.

Kleijnhans says agriculture will be the dominant economic activity.

They have teamed up with an agri-business company that intends to grow Moringa trees for biofuel production, as well as citrus and cash crops.

The development relies heavily on a successful partnership between government and the private sector, Kleijnhans says.

Government will provide the infrastructure while the private sector will invest in businesses.

Eduard van der Linde, senior consultant at town planners Eduard van der Linde and Associates in Johannesburg, says Cosmo City was successful because of government’s commitment.

“The principle of bringing employment and shopping centres to where people live is a good exercise, but it will require financial injection from government on a large scale. There will be challenges with this development because, unlike Cosmo City, it is something new in the middle of the bundu,” Van der Linde says.

Titus Masuku, a town planner from Umsebe Development Planners in Nelspruit, is cautiously optimistic.

“It will revitalise the community. Settling people there will be viable but houses will be expensive because the area is rocky. “I’m also not convinced of the sustainability because a shopping complex, for example, won’t employ everybody,”
Masuku says.

But the man Nkosi City is named after is eager for Daantjie to be put on the map. “The lives of the people will improve,” he says.

Developers believe Nkosi City will be self-sustaining.

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