EThekwini Municipality has set aside R117-million over the next four years to develop uMlazi into an economic hub to benefit local businesses and residents of the township. This was revealed at the sod turning ceremony of Sibusiso Mdakane Drive in uMlazi’s V-section held 30 May 2018 at Maxi’s Lifestyle.

The upgrade of Sibusiso Mdakane Drive, which will cost R26-million, will promote economic development in the area leading to further employment opportunities.

EThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede said the upgrade is part of the City’s initiative to promote township economies and to address the past imbalances in township areas by supporting local businesses, improving infrastructure and bringing government services closer to the people.

“The proposed development will ensure that people in and around uMlazi township experience an improved quality of life while also benefitting local entrepreneurs and addressing socio-economic challenges faced by residents,” she said.

She added that the ceremony sought to assure residents of uMlazi that the area will never be the same again, as the Municipality plans to provide essential infrastructure which will transform Sibusiso Mdakane Drive into a high street in the township of the same standard as Vilakazi Street in Soweto.

She further mentioned that one the key tourist attractions of this development will be the Mxenge Museum named after the struggle icon Griffiths Mnxenge who fought against apartheid. This is one family that was very close to Mama Winnie Mandela.

Mayor Gumede said street lighting will be changed with new designed lighting provided while pavements will be enhanced by block pavers to give the precinct a new look and feel. She said pedestrian walkways will also be widened to allow people to walk or run with ease.

The Municipal leadership present at the sod turning ceremony reassured residents of uMlazi and surrounding areas that the proposed development will bring about key economic activities such as intermodal transport points with both formal and informal business activities.

City Manager Sipho Nzuza said township areas are important to South African cities with eThekwini Municipality implementing strategies to create a diverse and vibrant economy within townships. “We had to come up with a systematic approach to leverage private sector investment in strategic locations to address historical challenges” said Nzuza.

He added that through public-private partnerships the City has been able to build a more inclusive, equitable and sustainable economy for residents.

Nzuza said the initiative is part of the Township Economy Regeneration Programme aimed at responding to the strategic role of township urban centers in both achieving government outcomes and in taking direction from the National Development Plan.

He said the Municipality is committed to transforming townships into sites for productive activities, contributing to socially inclusive wealth creation and helping to foster sustainable livelihoods through job creation, social cohesion and active citizenship.

“This development is an indication that the City is committed to advancing radical economic transformation. Through this intervention we will be able to unlock economic opportunities and thus achieve inclusive economic growth and sustainable employment,” he added.

Max Mqadi of Max’s Lifestyle in Umlazi said he is grateful of the proposed development as it will uplift small businesses in the area and change the look of Umlazi. “I am one business people who want to see other businesses grow, I urge the Municipality to assist small businesses on the issues of compliance so that they also benefit on this development,” said Mqadi.