R26,5m infrastructure to boost Umzimvubu economy

April 18, 2024: A R26,5 million eMaxesibeni Informal Trade Infrastructure project which will benefit 150 informal traders was officially launched today at eMaxesibini (Mount Ayliff) in the Umzimvubu Local Municipality.

Delivering the keynote address at the launch of the project, the MEC for Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism Mlungisi Mvoko said 84 informal traders have already been allocated trading space at the new eMaxesibeni Hawkers Centre. The informal trade infrastructure includes 24 formal lockup units, 36 semi-formal stands, 84 semi-informal spaces, vehicle repairs facility, carwash facility, an ablution facility, a guard house as well as sanitation, water and electrical supply for these facilities.

“The Informal Trade Infrastructure is meant to promote economic and social benefits and to provide work opportunities to the community of eMaxesibeni. This is being achieved by providing dedicated and permanent infrastructure for informal traders and small businesses to conduct their business activities in a clean and safe environment. We appointed the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC), which is the infrastructure delivery arm of government, to implement the project on behalf of the Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEDEAT) for the benefit of the Umzimvubu Local Municipality.

I am delighted that during the construction phase of this infrastructure, six local small businesses received contracts worth R2,4 million for brickwork, plastering, paving and fencing in order to boost local economic development. A total of 57 jobs were created during construction which included 23 youth and 30 women jobs. Materials such as sabhunga and sand worth R1 million were also sourced from eMaxesibini,” said Mvoko.

Mvoko said the facility will be owned and managed by the Umzimvubu Local Municipality. It is envisaged that this facility will become fully operational from today onwards.

“I am confident that government interventions such as this one will energise local economies especially those in rural and township localities. The intention is to create sustainable jobs and livelihoods, improved revenue generation as well as the alleviation of poverty in our communities,” Mvoko said.

Cllr. Inga Nodali who was the acting Mayor of Umzimvubu Local Municipality for the day expressed words of gratitude over the handover of the Emaxesibeni Hawkers Centre.

“It fills my heart with great satisfaction to witness the fruition of months of hard work, dedication, and collaboration. These hawker stalls stand not merely as structures of brick and mortar but as beacons of hope and economic opportunity for our community.

In every corner of EmaXesibeni, there resides an abundance of talent, creativity, and entrepreneurial spirit waiting to be unleashed. These hawker stalls provide a platform for our local artisans, craftsmen, and entrepreneurs to showcase their skills, share their stories, and contribute to the vibrant tapestry of our community. I therefore extend our sincerest thanks to the department for their steadfast support and tireless efforts in overseeing the construction of these new hawker stalls. This investment in our community’s economic development has not only created tangible opportunities for local entrepreneurs but has also helped to enhance the vibrancy and vitality of EmaXesibeni as a whole,” said Cllr. Nodali.

ECDC executive manager for enterprise finance and business support Darwin Nkonki said construction on the project began in July 2021 and it was completed on 15 December 2023. The project attracted initial funding of R2 million from the Eastern Cape Provincial Treasury in the 2017/18 and 2018/19 financial years and additional funding of R24,4 million was secured from the Provincial Economic Stimulus Fund. The Umzimvubu Local Municipality also contributed R1 million towards the completion of the project. The Informal Trade Infrastructure will be managed by the Umzimvubu Local Municipality.

“The informal traders’ infrastructure at eMaxesibeni will go a long way to addressing infrastructural challenges. The provision of this economic infrastructure is an important mechanism to stimulating the economic potential of informal traders.

This is because we know the informal economy is one of the main pillars of economic growth in towns such as eMaxesibeni. This facility therefore aims to enhance economic and social benefits while also creating job opportunities for the local community. The dedicated and permanent infrastructure will also allow the informal traders to operate in a hygienic and secure environment. The facility has the capacity to accommodate up to 150 informal traders, thereby contributing significantly to the town’s informal economy,” Nkonki said.