Business leaders expect the construction sector in KwaZulu-Natal to bounce back after experiencing a downturn last year.
DURBAN - The KwaZulu-Natal construction industry has weathered a difficult economic climate over the past year, but business leaders are upbeat about the possibility of a turnaround in 2019.

Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Musa Makhunga, speaking to Network following the KZN Construction Expo last week, said there were several successful projects and opportunities in the province that had bucked the economic slump and others that could contribute to an upturn.

The expo brought together more than 2 750 stakeholders involved in construction and infrastructure projects in the region to address strategic issues around funding, collaboration, project delivery and sustainability.

“There are several construction projects like the completed Suncoast Casino Complex revamp and the planned Oceans Mall Development plus numerous commercial and residential developments in uMhlanga and Cornubia. The Durban Chamber believes that more should be done with the CBD,” Makhunga said.

In March last year at the soil turning of the city’s largest construction undertaking, the R35 billion Durban Point Waterfront Development, eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede estimated that the city’s ambitious project would create 11000 jobs annually over 15 years as well as 6 750 permanent jobs. The development is expected to boost surrounding property values by approximately 10% and property values in the CBD by 5%.

Makhunga said the chamber was optimistic about prospects for the construction sector in 2019/20.

“We see government moving towards investment rather than consumption and mobilisation towards more public-private partnerships. The recent establishment of an infrastructure fund is encouraging with government committing R100 billion towards the fund as stated in the National Budget,” he said.

“There are a lot of opportunities involved in the development of infrastructure as well as residential and commercial projects in informal settlements and rural areas. This could lead to opportunity and job creation within the local communities as well as be a boost to the construction industry,” Makhunga said.

Makhunga said the province was already seeing catalytic developments in some areas, particularly in Durban, while mixed-used developments that offer citizens a “live, work and play” lifestyle were in demand.

Makhunga said some of these major developments were focused in the Outer West and northern parts of Durban.

“The Ntshongweni development is on the Durban Chamber’s radar,” he said.

“We are seeing the northern part of eThekwini booming in terms of property development. There is an increasing trend in rentable office space in uMhlanga and opportunities within Cornubia and the Dube TradePort special economic zone.”

Makhunga said the expo had provided organisations an opportunity to network and build their brands.

- THE MERCURY