Today I conducted an oversight visit to the OR Tambo Jewellery Manufacturing Precinct situated in Ward 23, Bonaero Park, Ekurhuleni.
This is a joint project between the Gauteng Department of Economic Development, Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality and the Department of Trade and Industry.
The site was envisaged to be a mineral beneficiation hub where raw materials are processed into jewellery for both local and international markets. The site was identified as a Special Economic Zone in order to attract business and create jobs.
However, no jewellery beneficiation tenants could be found for the site, so instead, the Gauteng Department of Economic Development rented the space out to a food processing company.
This change in scope has led to numerous infrastructure problems for the residents of the ward, as the bulk infrastructure that services the site it was never designed to facilitate the type of industry that is now operating from the precinct.
Sewage blockages and leaks, as well as intermittent water outages have become the norm for residents of Ward 23.
In 2019, in a written reply in the Gauteng Legislature, Gauteng MEC for Finance, Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko indicated that the Gauteng Government was happy with the change in scope of the project and that the municipality had been notified to increase bulk service capacity for the ward.
To date, this has not happened, and residents still struggle as the ANC-led municipality could care less about their plight.
Despite the MEC indicating that this type of industry was acceptable – the Auditor General has flagged the change in scope for incurring R3.3 million worth of fruitless and wasteful expenditure.
Public funds have been wasted, jobs and skills development associated with them have not materialised – and residents continue to fight what has become a losing battle with the uncaring ANC-led municipality.
As Mayor, I will make sure that bulk infrastructure in the ward is urgently upgraded. I will write to both the Gauteng MEC for Economic Development and MEC for Cooperative Governance, to demand that the need of residents is attended to without delay and that the project get back on track – in line with its original design.
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