Durban — The mayor of uMhlathuze Municipality, Xolani Ngwezi, has committed his municipality to rebuilding and revitalisation Empangeni town, saying that the project will cost an estimated R67 million.
Ngwezi said that after years of being an economic powerhouse for the greater Zululand region and the north-eastern part of KwaZulu-Natal, Empangeni had gradually become dilapidated, its infrastructure strained by overpopulation.
Given Empangeni’s rich history and its strategic role in the regional economy, Ngwezi said, it was incumbent on the City of uMhlathuze “to take bold steps to revitalise their beloved Empangeni CBD”.
“History reminds us that the Borough of Empangeni was established on October 13, 1960, and this Friday, Empangeni will celebrate its 63rd anniversary.
“It has provided economic opportunities, supported agricultural activities, and facilitated the movement of goods and people, enriching the lives of many.
“Our country and region have witnessed population and economic growth over the years, placing increasing pressure on the foundations of Empangeni's economic system. What was once considered adequate began to show signs of strain,” Ngwezi said.
He added that the town’s vitality depended on its infrastructure, service networks, shopping centres and communal facilities, all of which needed to cater to the needs of its residents and the wider community.
Ngwezi added that in recent years, Empangeni had shown signs of ageing and the need for revitalisation, evidenced by overcrowding, congested roads, informal trading, deteriorating hygiene systems, “and the presence of individuals with criminal intent occupying our streets and public spaces”.
He said its residents had passionately voiced their concerns, requesting and demanding action that the town be revamped.
In the coming years, Ngwezi said, they would embark on high-profile, economy-driving projects, including:
- Development of the Empangeni Mega Project — an expansive project that would see the creation of about 10 000 new housing units, catering to low-income, middle-income, and upscale residents. It would also include new shopping malls, communal facilities and more.
- A-Rank Redevelopment (Top Rank) – a project which would provide improved facilities, including holding and loading zones, an amphitheatre, designated car washing and filling station facilities, and an imposing pedestrian bridge.
- Empangeni Rail B-Rank – a project promising exciting developments, enhancing the rail infrastructure in the city.
Ngwezi added that these projects represented commitment to taking tangible steps to improve the lives of community members and secure a brighter future for the next generation.
He outlined some of the key deliverables of the Empangeni Revitalisation Project:
- 101 informal traders’ stalls.
- 3 communal ablution facilities.
- 2 communal garden/play areas.
- 2 communal meeting blocks.
- 2 communal storage facilities.
- Clearview fencing of the library area.
- Paving and landscaping.
- Engineering services connections.
He said BVI Consulting had been appointed as the “professional service provider”, and Jack’s B Construction as the contractors.
“This project reflects our commitment to creating an environment where businesses, operators, and traders can thrive, ensuring socio-economic stability.
“We firmly believe in self-reliance, hard work, and active participation from all stakeholders. In recent months, we have provided support to numerous SMMEs and small-scale farmers, offering the tools and resources needed to succeed in today’s challenging economic climate.
“Our goal is to empower everyone to have a fighting chance and prevent the scourge of extreme poverty in our communities,” Ngwezi emphasised.
He called on all stakeholders to work with the municipality as they implemented the different projects, understanding that there might be inconveniences during the construction processes.
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