HEIDELBERG TIMES

Mon 7:41 am
Apr 22, 2024
Neil Rice
Neil Rice

VAAL SEZ DEVELOPMENT IN LESEDI CLOSE TO REALIZATION

“There is a need to find a balance between environmental issues and human needs,” says Cllr Motsepe from Lesedi Local Municipality.

The first Lesedi Community Engagement roadshow with regards to the development of certain areas within the municipality (forming part of the Vaal Special Economic Zone) was held at the Ratanda Multipurpose hall on Monday (December 11).

The Vaal SEZ will stretch over the three municipalities making up the Sedibeng district, namely Emfuleni, Lesedi and Midvaal.

There has been much consternation recently with plans to develop a site in Extention 24 adjacent to Heidelberg’s renown bullfrog population being met with strong opposition and anger from residents.

The current MMC for Economic LED and Planning in the Lesedi Local Municipality-LLM, Councilor Themba Motsepe, says that although Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA’s) are still in the process of being conducted, there remains a need to find a balance between protecting the environment and meeting human needs.

“The frogs will be protected, but this development will continue,” said Councilor Motsepe. “The aim is to ignite economic activity within Lesedi with long term investments.”

Chief Executive Officer of the Vaal SEZ, Mr Xola Sithole, said that the start of development was but a matter of months away and the first groundbreaking/groundclearing event was expected to take place around the beginning of February 2024. There was already investment of over R3-billion in place from two companies, one which will be manufacturing composite LPG gas cylinders (plastic cylinders) and another which will be manufacturing chemicals.

It is not yet clear on which site these factories will be built as Lesedi has a total of 180 hectares available for development within the SEZ.

Mr Sithole said that he expected all EIA’s to be completed by May 2024. There are many objections which have been submitted specific to the Extention 24 development – it will be interesting to see how much weight these objections will carry and if they will lead to any change in the planned development.

The question of how the authorities plan to upgrade and improve infrastructure for this new project remains unanswered. The current situation for residents and businesses adjacent to the proposed site in Extention 24 is grim at best, with consistent water and electricity outages and an outdated sewerage system already under immense strain.

Can Heidelberg afford to go ahead with this development? Alternatively, can we afford NOT to go ahead with it? Such investment will create numerous employment opportunities and bring a much-needed injection of economic activity into the area. Public opinion suggests that any investment is welcome, just not on the proposed site in Extention 24.

For more on the Vaal SEZ, visit www.vaalsez.co.za or should you still require more information, send a mail to info@vaalsez.co.za