Pretoria - A group of industrialists in Bronkhorstspruit on Friday vented their frustrations about the difficulties they faced doing business at the Ekandustria Industrial Park near the town.
This was during a meeting they held at the Bronkhorstspruit Bowling Club with Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga.
Mike Hammond bemoaned the fact that economic activities at the industrial park continued to deteriorate. He said local factories previously employed at least 25 000, but that number had decreased dramatically to a only few thousand.
“The situation is dire as factories will soon employ fewer than 1 000 people after one of the players threatened to move out,” he said.
Hammond took a swipe at the Mpumalanga Economic Growth Agency (Mega) - the entity which managed the industrial park - saying it was “absolutely useless”.
For years the entity belonged to Mpumalanga province, but it was recently transferred to the Gauteng province, according to Msimanga.
“The premier (David Makhura) was in the area recently and he announced that the transfer has already taken place. What we need is for the transfer to take place from the provincial government to the City of Tshwane so that the city can invest in the industrial area,” he said.
There were complaints that the industrial park had become dilapidated due to lack of maintenance by Mega.
In response, Msimanga said Mega wanted to hold on to Ekandustria because it used to receive grants.
Hammond said: “People are unhappy, dejected, tired and gatvol. Every single industrialist has a problem with Mega. Mega has to go and it should have gone 20 years ago.”
He said the industrial park has potential for business to flourish and to create more jobs. “It has infrastructure in place. It can employ at least 50 000 people,” he said.
Hammond proposed that the City and local businesspeople form a forum where they could voice their concerns.
Msimanga bought into the proposal, suggesting that the MMC for Economic Development and Spatial Planning, Randall Williams, should head the forum. “In Watloo we were able to establish a forum. We can duplicate (it) here,” he said.
Another businessman, Paul Gubler, complained about criminal activities and the SAPS officers. “There is lawlessness in the community. If you go to the police to report them, they don't do anything. They don't support you. There are many people who are leaving this area and (are going) to do business in Centurion,” he said.
Msimanga said the government had to be responsible for creating a conducive environment for businesspeople to do business and create jobs. “We need to make sure that we don't only retain business in this part of the city, but we must also attract new business,” he said.
He added that it was also vital to meet businesses that were not doing well to find out how the City could prevent them from leaving the area.