First step to making Somerset East industrial park a reality

Eastern Cape economic development MEC Mlungisi Mvoko, Sarah Baartman district municipality mayor Khunjuzwa Kekana and Blue Crane Route Municipality Bonisile Manxoweni do the sod-turning at the Somerset East industrial park.
BRIGHTER FUTURE: Eastern Cape economic development MEC Mlungisi Mvoko, Sarah Baartman district municipality mayor Khunjuzwa Kekana and Blue Crane Route Municipality Bonisile Manxoweni do the sod-turning at the Somerset East industrial park.
Image: SUPPLIED

Eastern Cape economic development, environmental affairs and tourism MEC Mlungisi Mvoko initiated the first step towards the establishment of the Somerset East Industrial Park, when they broke ground on Friday.

Mvoko said yesterday when the site was officially handed over that his department had already injected R28m into the construction of bulk civil and electrical infrastructure in Somerset East.

Among those in attendance were Sarah Baartman district municipality mayor Kunjuzwa Kekana, Blue Crane Route municipality mayor Bonisile Manxoweni, as well as MPs Nqabisa Gantsho and Princess Faku.

The investment in bulk infrastructure at the industrial park is a product of the provincial economic stimulus fund.

The fund is intended to create economic growth over three years, according to Mvuko.

He said the revitalisation of the Eastern Cape state-owned industrial parks was a priority in accelerating economic development in the lagging regions by attracting business investments.

He added that through funding support from the department of trade, industry and competition and the provincial economic stimulus funding, R192,9m was allocated for the critical upgrading of infrastructure at all parks across the province.

Speaking at Friday’s event, he said four of the five industrial park infrastructure projects had commenced, namely Dimbaza industrial park in Buffalo City Metro, Komani industrial park, Vulindlela in Mthatha and Somerset East multi-purpose industrial park in the Sara Baartman region.

“As we emerge from the worst effects of the coronavirus, and we move to lower levels of lock-down, we are focusing all our energies on economic recovery from the devastation of the pandemic.

“Through our provincial structures, we’re working off a five-point plan for economic recovery. The plan focuses on equitable and inclusive transformation, digital transformation,” Mvoko said.

Some of the initiatives planned for the Somerset East industrial park are animal fibre beneficiation (wool and mohair), animal skin hide and leather benefication, and renewable product enterprises.

According Mvoko the Karoo was an international mecca for wool and mohair, with about 5% of animal fibre being converted into full products in the country.

A further 95% was exported in raw form.

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