Focus on Philippi’s development issue

SIYAVUYA KHAYA

In a quest to identify the endless challenges of poor infrastructure develoment in the Philippi East area, the Philippi Development Initiative (PEDI) in conjunction with HHO Africa Consulting Engineering, conducted intensive research to determine the standard of infrastructure in Philippi.

On Thursday March 17, various representatives of City of Cape Town, provincial government and business owners gathered at the Philippi Village to receive the findings of the research which was conducted over a six months period, focusing on residential and industrial areas.

Director of HHO Africa, Fred Villiers, said they discovered that the area battled with detention ponds and drain blockages. Mr Villiers said, as is the case with many townships in the country, the area battled heavy stormwaters, especially in winter, which raised serious concerns among residents.

“The report indicates that the area is in need of an electricity sub-station. There is a need for the improvement of infrastructure. We also identified that the area has a shortage of water pipes servicing the community. Maintenance is another issue that needs to be looked at by the City of Cape of Town,” he said.

But, he added, generally the report indicates that the infrastructure is not terrible even though there is always a room for improvement.

Chief Executive Officer of PEDI, Thomas Swana, said they had found that appropriate development of Philippi could generate R8 million for the pubic and private sector in once-off spending in construction while creating 60 000 jobs over eight years.

Mr Swana said the research indicates that the future GDP, when development is completed, is estimated at R15 billion, creating 52 000 sustainable jobs beyond the eight year period.

“We found that businesses in Philippi are battling with crime and security, lack of support from local government and transport costs. Others cited financial constraints and availability of skilled workers.

“Despite these challenges, 80 percent of businesses were planning to stay in the area. But PEDI has also conducted a survey to better understand the constraints to businesse retention, with the aim of finding ways to attract new businesses, and build the desirability of the area for investment,” he said.

Mr Swana said the decision of the Western Cape Provincial Government to fund the R610 million re-alignment of the N2 at Borcherds Quarry was a potential game-changer, which would transform access to the area.

He added that the first phase of the project involved widening the highway into three lanes.

“The study was aimed at identifying how the Philippi area could be best used for an integrated mixed development with social and economic benefits. And the organisation is solely dedicated to improving the area of Philippi. PEDI is an organisation that was incepted in 1999 with the aim of supporting programmes that alleviate poverty and facilitate job creation, entrepreneurship and economic empowerment,” he said.

Mr Swana said the PEDI provides a linkage between Local government, provincial government, national government and local businesses.

Mzuzile Mpondwana, councillor for Ward 35, which includes Airport, Philippi Island, Philippi Industrial, Klipfontein, Lower Crossroads, Luzuko Park and Thabo Mbeki, said one of the area’s challenges is that they dont have sub-council offices where residents can pay their municipal bills. Instead, he said, Philippi residents are forced to go to Fezeka in Gugulethu to pay their bills.

“One of the challenges that we are grappling with is that there is no direct road that links Philippi to the N2. If you want to come to Philippi from town, you have to go via Nyanga. That has proven to be problematic to business owners in the area who would love to lure investors to invest on their businesses.

“But we are happy that there are plans to link R300 to Philippi. We are ecstatic that there are organisations like PEDI who play critical role in assisting the local and national government in speeding up service delivery,” he said.

Mr Mpondwana said he wishes that community leaders would be invited to attend such events as they reveal what steps are taken to uplift their communities.

As Vukani wrapped up the interview, he said: “We appeal to the residents not invade open land as they halt the plans of improving their communities.

“For instance, there were plans to build a mall in that land which now has been occupied by the people of Marikana.”