With its goal of bringing services closer to the people, Motherwell’s R76-million Thusong Centre is officially open for business.
The project – which took nearly 10 years to complete – was officially opened yesterday, although its customer centre has been running since November 22.
Nelson Mandela Bay municipality budget and treasury political head Retief Odendaal said the initial budget for construction had been about R36-million, but to date capital expenditure was about R71-million.
Mayor Athol Trollip said the project was about bringing the municipality closer to the people of Motherwell and bringing services to the people who live a long way from town.
“This is about making services available to the people so they don’t have to spend too much money getting to the services of the municipality,” Trollip said.
Construction of the building stalled several times with subcontractors downing tools a number of times since building began, demanding what they claimed was money owed to them for work done.
The project forms part of the municipality’s R200-million Motherwell urban renewal programme and was one of eight pilot areas targeted by former president Thabo Mbeki’s presidential urban renewal programme in 2001.
Trollip noted that construction of the Thusong Centre had gone on too long and said “building for 10 years you spend way too much money, you go over budget then you resuscitate and go back again”.
Economic development, tourism and agriculture political head Andrew Whitfield said the project had a long legacy of vandalism and neglect, and last year the project was placed under his department’s political leadership and its executive director Anele Qaba’s administration.
“This project highlights the unnecessary lack of development over a very long time and when you conceive an idea, you must execute it and deliver services to the people of the community to which the project is directed,” Whitfield said.
Whitfield said the Thusong Centre had been reconceptionalised into a Motherwell service centre with multiple functions.
“There are a number of departments that will be moving in and they will require specifications, certain adjustments,” he said.
Safety and security political head John Best said security services such as learner’s licence testing, driver’s licence testing and vehicle licence renewal would be available.
“We are going to duplicate what you see in Korsten 100%. We have now applied for a licence to be a B-grade testing centre where you can test for light motor vehicles to trucks but no motorcycle testing will be done here,” Best said.
Odendaal said since opening last month, the customer centre had already helped almost 1 000 people.
NU5 resident Sonwabile Ngquwe said he was happy the centre was finally open.
He said people who lived in Motherwell would no longer have to go to town to pay their municipal bills.
“As people of Motherwell, we appreciate this kind of initiative from the municipality,” he said.