CANADIAN delegates from Ontario visited Ndlambe Municipality last week in a collaboration between the South African Local Government Association (Salga) and the Canadian government to visit a select number of municipalities in the Eastern Cape to share their expertise, analysis and suggestions in ways to help build an inclusive and green municipality.
The delegates who work and advise in Canadian municipalities respectively are entering a relationship with Ndlambe to help ensure that the vision is achieved in terms of developing local economy.
Altogether six municipalities have been selected, hailing as far as Kouga and Port St Johns and will be piloting the project which will kick off in September this year. The proposals and area of focus will still need to go to council before will happen.
As a coastal municipality, Ndlambe lies in a strategic position to develop it to a processing point locally.
“The Eastern Province is the province of legends, it is a province so rich and we are proud and honoured as Salga Eastern Cape to be part of this and do what is best for people,” said Salga representative, Buyelwa Mafaya.
Ndlambe municipality had to put forward areas for development and highlighted tourism, agriculture, developing the harbour, 43 Air School, and local infrastructure as avenues to consider.
Mayor Phindile Faxi said their vision includes the expansion of the 43 Air School base so that in future Ndlambe municipality could accommodate domestic flights, develop and formalise Operation Phakisa, an initiative aimed at the development of a small harbour in Ndlambe.
“Most of the Kowie River will not suit it. We will have to find another way. We want to explore the issue of aquaculture,” said Faxi.
Faxi also presented local agriculture as an area for development, chicory, pineapples and diary. “Ndlambe is very strong but struggling on issues of mechanism. Many people grow up in rural areas and know the area, the land and how to harvest.”
“We have prospects of agricultural processing,” Faxi said.
Tourism was identified as another focus point. “We are rich in tourism, no industry here so we have to rely heavily on tourists who visit here. Individually you may come back to visit. Tourism is our strong point,” he said.
Faxi mentioned infrastructure issues, and said that Ndlambe Municipality has aggressively embarked on a project to bulk up infrastructure.
“Especially areas that are critical like Stenden, the road to 43 [Air School], our main amenities and beaches. We are being every serious about tourism,” Faxi said.
Ndlambe has other serious issues, Faxi added, mentioning “the bulk water supply, quality of water challenge and unable to grow tourism at desired level. There are issues with reticulation. People are still using conservancy tanks.”
Economic development catalyst from Innisfil municipality in Ontario, Dan Taylor, said: “We are here for capacity building, sharing our knowledge, expertise to help you people do what you need. I’m impressed with the vision and articulation of knowing where you want be going.
“The Canadian government allowed for this mission to happen.”
Taylor said they bring their knowledge of climate change, green energy and sustainability and will advise on asset management, understanding the value of infrastructure and knowing where they are in their life cycle.