Isithebe revitalisation programme launched

2016-10-12 06:00
MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Sihle Zikalala, Minister of Trade and Industry Dr Rob Davies and Mandeni mayor Sphesihle Zulu at Taurus Packaging, iSithebe during the revitalisation programme for iSithebe Industrial Park. Photo: supplied

MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Sihle Zikalala, Minister of Trade and Industry Dr Rob Davies and Mandeni mayor Sphesihle Zulu at Taurus Packaging, iSithebe during the revitalisation programme for iSithebe Industrial Park. Photo: supplied

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THE Minister of Trade and Industry (DTI) Dr Rob Davies along with the KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA) Sihle Zikalala and Mandeni mayor Siphesihle Zulu launched the first phase of the revitalised iSithebe Industrial Park in Mandeni, last Tuesday, 4 October.

According to a statement issued by DTI, the R49-million project is part of its Revitalisation of Industrial Parks Programme and is one of the 10 industrial parks that the department has prioritised for revitalisation as part of the programme.

“The objective of the programme is to revitalise state-owned industrial parks across the country in order to promote industrialisation and increase their contribution to job creation and the country’s economic growth. The aim is also to provide jobs in areas heavily populated by poor communities,” reads the statement.

Speaking at the launch, Davies said a large variety of industries operating from iSithebe contribute significantly to the economy of the area by providing over 20 000 jobs.

“During the revitalisation programme, a total of 15 Small Micro Medium Enterprises [SMMEs] were appointed for the project at the value of R6.3 million with 162 people employed on the project. The expenditure prioritised in iSithebe was the removal of old and outdated top structure to modern structures, the construction of the 3km pedestrian sidewalk pavement for use by the employees and the community around the industrial park, upgrading of high mast lights, improvement of street lighting and general electrical repairs,” he said.

Zikalala said:“We believe that as government we are here today launching this project to give the iSithebe Industrial Park a new lease on life, which is not only the vote of confidence in the growth prospect of the economy of KwaZulu-Natal, but shows that as government we are serious about investment attraction to the province.”

He said that iSithebe Industrial Park’s role as the heartbeat of economic activity in Mandeni cannot be overemphasised.

iSithebe was rocked by major protests earlier this year which resulted in several factories in the area being either set alight or shutdown.

Mayor Zulu urged the government and other stakeholders to influence the curriculum at TVET colleges in Mandeni to ensure that they offer relevant skills training.

“I would also like to thank all stakeholders for the continued support they offer especially to the community itself, we all need to strive to preserve the 25 000 jobs that are being offered at iSithebe Industrial Park for the benefit of Mandeni inhabitants and for investor attraction purposes,” he said.

Speaking on behalf of the board of directors for Ithala Development Finance Corporation, Ithala Group chairman Dr Mandla Gantsho said iSithebe Industrial Estate is managed and operated by the Ithala Development Corporation and that it was established as an industrial growth point some 45 years ago to stimulate development in the Mandeni and Sundumbili region.

He said that iSithebe can be considered as a successful industrial estate given the high occupation rates, low turn-over, the mix of industrial activity and the number of people employed within the area.

Dr Gantsho also mentioned the fact that women and the disabled were also catered for during the first phase of the revitalisation programme and that 15 SMMEs were appointed as sub-contractors at over R6 million.

“Today the estate occupies some 414 hectares with 165 factories owned by Ithala and 49 factories owned privately.

“The main tenants include Whirlpool South Africa, Taurus [paper packaging], Gomma-Gomma [furnisher], Nampak [paper packaging], Raffia Turffbag [bulk bags], Metso Minerals [foundry] and other several textile firms including Knitwear,” he said.

In closing, the iLembe District Municipality deputy mayor Dolly Shandu said that the iSithebe Industrial Park employs half of the population in Mandeni.

“It is our gold mine, it puts Mandeni on the map. We therefore appreciate [and aim] to see more partnerships in the region. I am also glad that iLembe has been identified as the renewable energy hub,” she said.

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