THE Mandela Bay Development Agency (MBDA) has created nearly 2000 jobs in Nelson Mandela Bay.
The MBDA released its Economic Impact Barometer yesterday, which was based on surveys conducted over the past three years in the city. It found that the 1667 jobs included both direct employment created due to the various MBDA capital investment projects and indirect and induced jobs.
MBDA chief executive Pierre Voges said the total value of new business sales generated with the various projects in Central, Helenvale, Kings Beach and Uitenhage was R548.1-million and that the projects had contributed R178.8-million to the country’s gross geographic product (GGP).
With a total of R450-million spent on MBDA urban renewal projects in the Bay since 2003, Voges said the projects acted as the “yeast” to make positive economic growth “rise” in the city.
Voges said Nelson Mandela Bay “could be a very different city in another 10 years’ time”. He set his immediate sights on the two city market squares of Uitenhage and Port Elizabeth, renamed after struggle heroes Vuyisile Mini (Port Elizabeth) and Zola Nqini (Uitenhage).
“Vuyisile Mini should not just be for cars, but for the public to enjoy. People should enjoy their Kentucky in their lunch time [in the square], and the square should not just have oil spots from the cars on it,” Voges said.
Both projects are still in the planning stages, with a stakeholder engagement process under way regarding the size and form of the cosmetic upgrade of Vuyisile Mini, which will include a statue to be erected within the next year.
The Zola Nqini upgrade formed part of the R23-million Uitenhage CBD upgrade, and the MBDA was working with Uitenhage Veterans formations in developing a statue of Zola Nqini and was also in the early stages of public consultations.
The almost 3000 surveys on which the Economic Impact Barometer’s outcomes were based were conducted between 2009 and 2013 at both businesses and residences.
Even though no new businesses were created around the revamped Uitenhage CBD last year, a total number of 58% of residents surveyed said they spent more time in the CBD since the upgrade, Voges said. He said a need was also identified in Uitenhage to match the informal trading facilities of Govan Mbeki Avenue in Uitenhage’s CBD.
Voges stressed the importance of contractors employing residents from the areas where the upgrades to the city occurred to prevent local contractors from getting “angry and aggressive”.
Voges said although only 10 new jobs were created in the private sector and businesses experienced no change in their turnover last year due to the R78-million Helenvale upgrade, 92% of residents responded positively to the aesthetic improvements in their suburb.
The surveys found that almost 20% of residents wanted to move away from Helenvale and that crime and derelict properties were the biggest challenges in the suburb.
“Helenvale is not just about bricks and mortar, but more about social upliftment. The suburb has a 53% unemployment rate,” Voges said. – Cindy Preller