Zuma to launch special economic zone
Developments in the multi-billion rand project Maluti-a-Phofung Special Economic Zone (MAP-SEZ) to be launch by President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday next week are an advance stage, with more international investors showing interest.
Zuma is expected to launch the project in Tshiame, Harrismith, in the Eastern Free State where he will be joined by trade and industry minister Rob Davies and his deputy Gratitude Magwanishe, as well as Free State Premier Ace Magashule
A Chinese delegation has already visited the Tshiame area where the project will be carried out in order to identify options on their investment.
Consul General of the People’s Republic of China to South Africa Ruan Ping expressed satisfaction with the efforts the municipality is putting on security and development of road infrastructure.
Ping who represented the government of China was recently in Maluti-A-Phofung to inspect and identify areas in which China can invest.
“I am very impressed with the kind of security which is being put here; fencing of the area is the first step towards securing a good business. The development of roads infrastructure here will make travelling easy and fast in these areas.”
Another country which has already invested in the project is Germany which will focus on distribution of vehicles.
The German government minister of economics, labour and ports Martin Gunther and Premier Ace Magashule said Germany has already injected R57-million into the project.
The chief executive officer of the Free State Development Corporation which was tasked to lead the implementation of the project, Ikhraam ‘Ozzie’ Osman, also noted that significant progress has been made.
He noted that the implementation of the much-anticipated Harrismith Logistics Hub (HLH) which was projected to create 29 000 jobs during its start in December last year has so far employed 70 local communities to erect a 26-kilometre fence at a cost of R60 million.
Osman said the M-SEZ is an ongoing project which might take up to 20 years and is widely anticipated to change the lives of people in Maluti a Phofung. It is expected to become the second metro in the Free State.
He noted, “M-SEZ is a government project aimed at boosting the economy and business round. As FDC our principle is in line with the ANC’s mandate of black economic empowerment. This will be done through ensuring that communities benefit from skill transfer while also establishing their own businesses”.
“This project is intended to position Harrismith as an agric-industry hub, creating value-adding capacity and ensuring that agro-commodities produced in the Free State are processed locally and exported,” he explained.
He added that plans are under way to establish a Food Processing Park in Harrismith, which will include plants for potato crisp, grit, and cereal manufacturing as well as a fresh produce hub. Opportunities also abound in fruit juice processing, deciduous fruit canning as well as in a starch processing plant.
The hub will host multinational and domestic companies in the food production sector and will provide for logistical services, warehousing, and cold storage, Osman noted.
Maluti-a-Phofung Municipal Council executive mayor Vusi Tshabalala said the project would see the establishment of a logistics hub and agro-processing park, primarily to service the automotive, light manufacturing, agro-processing, distribution and logistics sectors.
Harrismith is a key focal point of the Durban–Free State–Gauteng Corridor, which was identified in the 2005 National Freight Logistics Strategy approved by cabinet. “We have already finalised fencing the area to ensure safety and security. Our roads are being reconstructed and refurbished to ensure easy and fast movement by our investors,” the executive mayor said.
According to Tshabalala, there will also be a vehicle centre under the logistics hub to distribute vehicles manufactured at plants in Durban, East London and Port Elizabeth to various destinations across the country and beyond.
“It offers a unique opportunity to reduce the costs of freight by creating an inland port that can handle cargo containers through off-loading road cargo to rail, thereby reducing the truck congestion on the roads,” he added.