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Transforming KZN’s rural landscape

Written by Edwin Tshivhidzo
The lives of residents of uMsinga will be changed for the better with the recent launch of the rural infrastructure projects that are expected to develop, create jobs and bring investment to the community.

President Jacob Zuma with some of the women who benefit from the irrigation scheme in uMsinga where the President launched the rural infrastructure projects which will develop the area.UMsinga, which is about 250 kilometres from Durban, is predominately rural with little economic activity.

President Jacob Zuma recently launched rural infrastructure projects worth R70 million which form part of government’s Comprehensive Rural Development Programme (CRDP), that aims to tackle issues such as underdevelopment, food security, unemployment, poverty, lack of basic services and other social ills, which have become synonymous with rural areas.

The President, accompanied by Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti and KwaZulu-Natal Premier Senzo Mchunu, visited the Tugela Ferry Irrigation Scheme, an initiative that aims to help smallholder farmers and create job opportunities for the community.

He also held a sod turning ceremony for the 170 metre Mashunka and Ngubo Bridge and handed over an animal sale yard to the uMsinga Livestock Association.

President Zuma said rural development was one of government’s five key priorities.

“This means that greater focus and emphasis is being placed on the development of rural communities with the aim of improving the quality of life of our people, increasing access to basic services and creating jobs and job opportunities.

“Rural economy transformation requires us to bring resources to rural areas, such as water, electricity, improved infrastructure and economic opportunities in order to enable rural communities to take charge of their own economic development,” he said.

The President said over R2 billion had been invested in the past five years towards improving basic human needs, developing rural enterprises, and providing socio-economic infrastructure.

The refurbishment of the Tugela Ferry Irrigation Scheme is one of five prioritised schemes comprising 726 hectares of irrigated land along the Tugela River at Tugela Ferry in the Msinga Local Municipality located in the Umzinyathi District.

The scheme has been divided into plots that have been allocated for vegetable production, to improve food security, but also for the sale of surplus produce.

The President said more than 1 000 smallholder farmers have benefited through the scheme and 2 000 seasonal farm worker jobs will be created when the scheme is operating optimally. A total of 290 jobs were created during its construction.

Phase one of the project was completed last year. It included the refurbishment of the infrastructure, repairs to the weirs intake, repairs to the concrete canal, lining of the existing earth dams, upgrading the infield irrigation system, upgrading three pump stations and the construction of a new pump station.

“Good progress has been made toward the conclusion of the second phase, which includes the upgrading of two additional pump stations,” said the President of the R39 million project.

Government is further planning to build a bridge over the Tugela River to link the communities of Mashunka and Ngubo. President Zuma said preliminary designs for the bridge have been completed.

The project is expected to cost R55 million, including R30 million for the construction of the bridge to be funded by the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform while the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport will fund the access road and design costs estimated at R25 million.

“It will bring much needed relief and social benefit to the community of Mashunka. In addition to this, the new bridge will provide those engaged in farming activities easier access to markets by ensuring more efficient transportation to take their produce to markets.”

The construction of a road will also generate 200 jobs.

The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, together with the local livestock association, spearheaded the building of a permanent animal sale yard.

The construction of the R1,9 million facility was handed over to the Msinga Livestock Association.

President Zuma said people in rural areas deserve a better quality of life.

“Through the implementation of the Comprehensive Rural Development Programme, we are beginning to see a transformation of the rural landscape of our country and an improvement in the livelihoods of rural communities.”