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Vanderbijlpark, 1911

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Premier David Makhura: Sod turning of Vaal River City Development

6 May 2015 - MEC for Human Settlement, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Jacob Mamabolo and other MECs here present, CEO of the Vaal River City Development Project; Executive Mayor of the District, Cllr Simon Mofokeng, Mayor of Emfuleni, Cllr Greta Hlongwane and other Mayors present, Members of Mayoral Committees, Councillors, Representatives of Community-based organisations, Representatives of the private sector, Distinguished guests, The people of Sedibeng.

Today marks the opening of a new chapter in the historical evolution and economic history of Sedibeng. We are gathered here to witness the regeneration of a key industrial node in the south of Gauteng which was once a thriving hub of the steel industry and burgeoning towns of Vanderbijlpark and Vereeniging.

Today marks the birth of Vaal River City, a new hydropolis and entertainment hub in the south of Gauteng. We are here to witness to the rebirth of a new Sedibeng economy which will serve as a catalytic that will unlock the massive potential of the Vaal River as an asset that can create a new economy for the people of Sedibeng.

When I presented my first State of the Province Address on 27 June 2014, I made a commitment that the Gauteng Provincial Government will work with municipalities and national government to ensure that the marginal districts of West rand Sedibeng become the focus of key infrastructure investment and industrial interventions so that they too can grow as part of the mainstream economy of the GCR.

During my second State of the Province Address on 23 February this year, I outlined a number of bold interventions to spatially reconfigure Gauteng as part of our programme for radical Transformation, Modernisation and Re-industrialisation.

These interventions included the following:

Industrial restructuring of the Gauteng along five development corridors that have specific industries and sectors with distinct comparative advantages;
Driving decisive spatial transformation through massive infrastructure development, including building of mega human settlements and building of post-apartheid cities, rollout of public transport, expanding broadband access to townships and marginal regions, broadening the energy mix, investing in water and sanitation infrastructure;
The revitalisation and mainstreaming of the township economy as a sector that should grow into 30% of the provincial economy and contribute significantly to employment creation and economic empowerment.
With regard to Sedibeng, the Southern Development Corridor, we announced specific projects that we will implement with a view to building a new economy in this region, anchored around the Vaal River.

We know too well that this part of our province has experienced significant economic decline following de-industrialisation as well as challenges facing the steel industry which for many years has been the backbone of this region’s economy.

Faced with this reality, we seek to intervene in a manner that will bring much needed economic development in this area. We seek to diversify the economy of this region away from its traditional reliance on the steel industry.

Among the things we said we will do is that we will leverage the economic potential of the Vaal River. If one looks at the world map, you will see that many well-known and major cities of the world are built around rivers.

Great river cities include New York City in the USA; Buenos Aires in Argentina; London in England; Cairo in Egypt; Kolkata in India; and Shanghai in China.

The plans we announced for Sedibeng were well received by all the relevant stakeholders. They ignited hope in the people of Sedibeng that tomorrow will be better than yesterday and today.

Our plans give practical meaning to our ongoing commitment to pursue even and balanced development across all parts of our province. As we were outlining our plans we emphasised that gone are the days when some regions and municipalities will be neglected as the Cinderellas on the periphery of the provincial economy.

We are determined to reverse the spatial injustice and economic marginalisation of regions such as Sedibeng. We are indeed unrelenting in our quest to build a socially and economically inclusive Gauteng City Region.

Programme Director, we have gathered here today to witness the practical implementation of the vision and the plans we have outlined for this part of our province.

Today’s sod turning ceremony is proof, once again, that we are a government that not only talks but we are a government that implements. Ours is a government at work!

We take this opportunity to thank our private sector partners for walking with us on this important journey. We assure our partners of our on- going support on this and many other projects. We reiterate that Gauteng is open for business and that this government regards the private sector as a partner in development.

We will, therefore, continue to form transformative partnerships with the private sector.

Programme Director, the Vaal River City Development we are launching today is a major boost to the economy of this region. Just to indicate the scale of this project, allow me to quote some figures.

Our private sector partners are planning to invest more than R4 billion into this development. The development is estimated to be worth between R7 and R11 billion, and will create up to 7 500 jobs in the construction phase alone.

The multiplier effect of similar projects is about 1.5 times which will result in economic spin-offs of between R3 and R5 billion for this region.

By any account this is a major injection into the economy of this region. It justifies our optimism in saying that Sedibeng will never be the same again; and that a new major economic node is on the rise in this part of our province.

In addition to the Vaal River City Development, work is currently ongoing to maximise the agricultural potential of the Southern Development Corridor focusing especially on agro-processing. Our intention is to make Sedibeng the food basket of the Gauteng City Region.

With regards to Human Settlements over the next four years, more than 120 000 houses in this corridor will be built in the following areas: Boiketlong; Golden Highway; Evaton; Vereeniging, Savanah City, Ratanda and the R59 Corridor.

We will also continue to support the Gauteng Highlands development which is a R40 billion investment that will create 25 000 direct and indirect jobs.

Programme Director, these are some of the plans we have to make Sedibeng a better place to live in, to work and to do business. We take this opportunity to call on all stakeholders to rally behind these plans, so that together we can ensure their effective implementation.

We owe it to our people who perished during the Sharpeville Massacre, Boipatong Massacre, Sebokeng shooting and many other incidents that placed the Vaal at the centre of the struggle for liberation in the 1960s and 1980s.

There is no room for failure. There is no room for petty squabbles and fights among us. The provincial government and municipalities must do their part to ensure that the rebirth of Sedibeng into a new economic giant in the south of Gauteng succeeds.

The private sector has also done a lot by catalysing this development of the Vaal River City using their own land and own resources. We must crowd in more private and public sector investment leveraging state-owned land – municipal, provincial and national government land.

The era of random sale of government land must come to an end. We need to use our own land strategically for industrial development and mega human settlements.

With these words, I wish all those involved in this project success.

Sedibeng will never be the same. Never again will Sedibeng and West Rand be marginalised regions characterised by high levels of poverty, unemployment and underdevelopment.

God Bless Africa! Africa unite!

We are One Africa! We are One Humanity!

Thank you!

Photos from this event