Municipal News

Industrial Park – Bone of contention

Michele du Plessis

The proposed development of a Forestry Industrial Technology Park and associated infrastructure in Sabie, supported by TCLM and implemented by the Mpumalanga Department of Economic Development and Tourism is not well received by all. It has been a bone of contention right from the start for the Sabie community, Sabie Ratepayers Association, Sabie Chamber of Commerce and Tourism and the Waterfall Landowners Association.

“The Forestry Industrial Technology Park (FITP) is proposed on a portion of the Remainder of Portion 15 (RE/15) of the Farm Waterval 168 JT (the project site). The FITP will consist of various types of tenants, and social programs as well as centralised facilities. The primary objective of the project is to create a positive and sustainable socio-economic impact in the greater Thaba Chweu area through job creation, community development and sustainable economic growth, and establishing a platform for industrial activity. The development of a Forestry Industrial Technology Park could facilitate this platform.

Sabie proves to be technically well located with adequate market interest to make a Forestry Industrial Technology Park highly feasible. Market assessments showed that various business industries can benefit from the proposed Forestry Industrial Technology Park.

Engagements with various stakeholders and interested parties have proven that a substantive need exists for the retail, business. Offices, warehousing, packaging, light and heavy industrial, as well as a central logistics hub.” Excerpt from the Draft Scoping Study (DSS).

The letter was written on behalf of the following entities; all being registered Interested and Affected Parties – Sabie Ratepayers Association, Sabie Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, Waterfall Landowners Association – contains “comments and queries to which we require a response.”

Questions from the letter sent to Danie Krynauw, Green Box Consulting:

Q 6. We understood that originally, Safcol had withdrawn their interest in this project.

From the new draft Scoping Study, it would appear that this has now changed. Is this true?

Page 3 of the DSS: “Premier Mabuza said the South African Forestry Companies Limited (SAFCOL) has committed to working with the province to establish the Forestry Technology Park in Sabie, and Thaba Chweu Local Municipality has committed to making land available for this initiative.”

Q 12. Given TCLM’s extremely poor record of sound governance and management of the municipality, this casts into grave doubt, their ability to effectively manage a project of this magnitude. Kindly advise what measures are in place to ensure that the project is properly managed?

Q 13. Given the current economic situation in South Africa, it brings into question the rationality of spending over R 1, 7 Billion on a project which appears to be nonviable, based on information to hand within the DSS and this letter.

Q 8. P 16: The first paragraph of Section 2.4.2 is incorrect. The sewerage plant failed for several months earlier this year and to date, is not fully functional. The sewerage plant requires a major upgrade/refurbishment to reach its capacity. Who will undertake this work?

P 16-DSS 2.4.2 Sanitation: Sewerage and industrial effluent are treated at the Sabie WWTW. The WWTW is currently operating at 60% of its 5 Ml/day capacity, thus 3 Ml/day. The engineering assessment completed by Mott MacDonald, 2018 calculated the peak wet weather sewage discharge from the proposed development is estimated at 34.70l/s, equivalent to 3.00Ml/day.

  1. P 18: It is a known fact than the electricity reticulation/infrastructure is aged, inefficient and frequently fails. It has been estimated that electricity losses may be in the region of 40 %.

Kindly advise what provision there is to completely restore the electricity system to full functionality and capacity. Currently, the electricity demand exceeds the planned demand, leading to punitive charges by Eskom. How will this be dealt with to avoid such excessive demand costs, given the additional demand for the project? It is estimated that for Eskom to “revamp” Sabie’s supply and to install additional capacity requires a timeline of at least five years. How will the demand be managed during the first five years (or more) of the project? This might be a “fatal flaw”.

Currently, TCLM owes Eskom in excess of R 760 million and this figure is rising exponentially, month-on-month. There is very little (if any) prospect of this debt being settled in the foreseeable future. On this basis, what incentive does Eskom have to revamp the current system or install additional capacity? This, too, is seen as a “fatal flaw”. Please motivate this.

P18 2.4.3. Electricity: “Once more power is needed the substation will need to be upgraded by Eskom. This will have a substantial cost as both transformers and the supply line to this development will have to be upgraded. Eskom has also confirmed that they are currently experiencing low voltages on the 132kV supplies to the Sabie / Lydenburg area. They have however confirmed that there are projects ongoing to resolve these issues. The expected timeline is 5 years.”

Captain Gwilym Rees, chairman of the SRA confirmed that receipt of the letter was acknowledged, but that no answers were supplied yet.

The complete letter will be available on the GPS News website and Facebook page.


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