Tensions over new centre

2017-02-16 06:01

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AS construction of a new shopping centre in the Mathulini area in Umzumbe gets well underway, tempers are flaring as the Inkosi Bhekizizwe Luthuli, Umzumbe Municipality and the community seem not to be singing from the same hymn book.

The project is being spearheaded by Inkosi Luthuli but the municipality admits they are not involved in any way.

Umzumbe Municipality spokesperson Trevor Khanyile said the municipality was not consulted before the project started.

“Generally as the municipality we are the custodian of the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act 16 of 2013 (SPLUMA) that regulates planning for the use of land so that people build in correct areas designated for specific purposes.

Our involvement starts with ensuring that the developer complies with the prescriptions of law when developing,” said Khanyile.

The Act, said Khanyile, ensures that all development in an area falls within the means of the municipality and its future plans and zoning.

Last week, community held a march after complaints were raised that employment is reserved for “outsiders,” among other things.

Inkosi Luthuli called a media briefing on Wednesday where he let it be known that construction of a shopping centre in the area has been a dream of his for a long time.

Luthuli also said the municipality has refused to be involved with the project since the very beginning.

He said in the early 2000’s he found a potential investor to start the project however, the investor failed to meet the deadline of initiation of the project.

He said at that time a site number had already been given and the land belonged to a Mr Mbambo who later sold the land to the current owner Mr Ngubane who owns a tavern near the site.

“When construction had to start, issues arose as the municipality took some time to issue the permit to start construction. It took them two years to issue the permit after having Cogta involved.

In the past weeks we have witnessed ward councillors and municipal officials together with a number of community members burning tyres on the site, interfering with the progress,” said Luthuli.

He added that several meetings where the municipality was asked to participate, however they did not come.

Khanyile said the municipality appreciates working together of all sectors of society but it is disturbing to see challenges with the construction.

He said he hoped a solution will be found soon.

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