Building the future

RESIDENTS from the former politically torn greater Hammarsdale and Mpumalanga region in KwaZulu-Natal will in the near future reap the benefits of having a multi-million rand shopping centre.

The Mpumalanga Township Mall is an initiative of the National Treasury's neighbourhood development and partnership grant and the eThekwini municipality.

Construction of the infrastructure for roads leading to the chosen site where the centre will be built is presently in progress.

The centre is expected to cater for over 13000 residents who presently must travel to Pietermaritzburg, Pinetown and Durban to buy goods that were not available locally.

The municipality's initiative will also see community members receive 256 RDP houses and a further construction of 14500 bonded houses.

Thembeka Khumalo, a health volunteer from Georgedale, said: "I had heard that the government was planning to develop undeveloped areas, but I never thought it would be happening to us.

"The centre is a bonus for us. It will bring employment for the youth and we hope the level of crime will decrease."

Lucky Mngwengwe, a councillor from Mpumalanga township, said construction projects had already created 70 jobs in the area.

"Due to all the political violence that was in the area many investors left, but with the construction of the shopping centre, we are now hoping that the people's lives will change for the better," said Mngwengwe.

The centre's project manager Peter Gilmore said: "Phase two will see a further investment of R45million for the development of public and social facilities."

Gilmore said once the centre was completed the greater Mpumalanga area would also have a health and sports centre, small traders' facilities and a metro police station.

The Mpumalanga Development follows other successful projects such as Bridge City, KwaMashu Town Centre and the Umlazi Mega City.

Mpumalanga last month celebrated 17 years of peace in the township and received the Africa Peace prize in 1993.