R400M RARE WATER DEAL

RARE spring water will create at least 300 jobs for the residents of Heidelberg, east of Johannesburg.

RARE spring water will create at least 300 jobs for the residents of Heidelberg, east of Johannesburg.

The jobs will come from an investment by soft drink giant Coca-Cola through their new Valpré water bottling plant.

Speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony yesterday, Lesedi municipality mayor Busisiwe Modisakeng said: "The plant will put Lesedi on the map for producing the rare water."

She said that the project would help fight poverty through job creation.

Modisakeng urged the community not to panic and think there would be a shortage of water in the area because of the project.

"We would create systems to make sure that the community benefit from the project more than the outsiders," she said.

Coca-Cola South Africa president Bill Egde said the plant was their second in the country and was estimated to inject more than R400million into the country.

Egde said that they would use solar energy to extract water from the ground and because the plant was close to Johannesburg that would reduce air pollution.

He said the project was in partnership with Coca-Cola Shanduka which is a BEE company.

"When we are choosing vendors and suppliers we will make sure we meet BEE standards and that the community benefits," he said.

He said they would also run a graduate's programme to give young graduates skills.

Edge said that graves in the area would not be tampered with.

He said the plant would be built on land of 500 hectares. The land is made up of two formerly unused farms and was bought from two farmers. Both farms have less than 50 residents who will be "inherited" by Coca Cola.

Zingisa Smale of the department of agriculture and rural development said that her department would monitor the plant to make sure it adheres to agricultural and environmental standards.

She said that water was a rare commodity and it needs to be protected.

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