The KwaZulu-Natal Government has handed over multi-million rand infrastructure projects to the Kokstad Municipality to make backyard operations more professional.
The Provincial Treasury handed over R40 million infrastructure in the form of a Light Industrial Park (LIP) and the Shayamoya Echo Park (SEP).
An amount of R22 million was allocated to the LIP, which aims to identify emerging entrepreneurs who work in their backyards and train them to run their businesses professionally.
The entrepreneurs will be awarded with certificates so that they can break into the mainstream economy.
The R18 million allocated to SEP will stimulate a number of employment opportunities for local people to look after the park.
It will also promote social cohesion amongst different race groups in the area, while teaching communities about caring for the environment and also promoting tourism.
Speaking during the handover, Provincial Treasury Department Head Simiso Magagula said government wants to stimulate economic growth in the Kokstad Municipality.
Magagula said the facility will serve as an incubator for small scale entrepreneurs, who are currently operating in their backyard.
“The facility will give them skills to be competitive and to run successful business entities. That will enable them to get into the mainstream economy in this municipality,” said Magagula.
He added that Treasury will be part of a steering committee that will oversee the running of the facilities to ensure that the facilities work properly.
MEC for Human Settlements and Public Works, Ravi Pillay, said the facelift that the town is undergoing will ensure that it is more attractive to investors.
“This town is also a strategic route for the province, as it is the link between the province and the Eastern Cape, with many travellers seeing it as a half way point,” said MEC Pillay.
Kokstad resident, Mayor Nosisa Jojozi, said it was exciting to see the municipality taking a leap into stimulating economic growth in the area.
“Today we realise our dream. There is no time to waste - we will hit the ground running,” said an excited Jojozi.
The Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs has also invested R46 million in the town to rehabilitate infrastructure.
Over the past five years, over R400 million has been spent under the Small Town Rehabilitation Programme to rehabilitate small towns across the province.
The towns, which have gained more investments through the programme, include Umzimkhulu, Richmond, Dannhauser, Weenen, Greytown, Endumeni and Okhahlamba.