Regional mall on the cards for Vryheid

A satellite image showing where Vryheid's regional mall is to be developed.

PLANS are afoot to develop a regional mall in Vryheid along the same scale as the Newcastle Mall.

Members of AbaQulusi’s Executive Council (Exco) began the process last week, making 24.9 hectares of land, adjacent to Pioneer High School’s sports fields, available for development.

“I met with the AfriForum chairperson, André van der Walt, and his reaction to the possibility of developing a regional mall in Vryheid was positive. This town needs development,” said AbaQulusi mayor, Jerry Sibiya.

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“I really think that this is something Vryheid needs. A lot of people drive out of town to Newcastle or Ulundi or Nqutu to do their shopping. Take me, for example, when I used to attend the water crisis meetings in Ulundi, I used to stop at the Game to do some shopping,” said Mr van der Walt.

The municipality is currently busy with title deed registrations and the rezoning of the site for commercial use. This week, developers are being encouraged to submit expressions of interest, and public participation meetings will soon be underway.

The idea of developing a mall in Vryheid was first discussed just ahead of the 2011 local government elections.

Cllr Sibiya says the timing may be the reason the idea never gained momentum at the time.

“There were a few objections from local business when the idea was first brought to the table but this is not the only reason the idea fell away. When the new administration took over just after the 2011 elections, the idea fell through the cracks. That is why we are working on the development from now. By the time the next elections take place, I hope that the project will be at least 70% toward completion, so that we would have left something great for the town during our time in office,” he explained.

A recent feasibility study describes Vryheid as the economic hub of the Zululand District. Vryheid is also strategically located to draw support from five major towns in the district: Ulundi, Paulpietersburg, Piet Retief, Pongola, and Nongoma.

“The Vryheid economy has been stagnant for quite a while. I think the mall will change the face of the town. It will boost the economy and it will boost the rates income of the municipality. I want everybody to unite and play a role in changing the town through job creation and keeping the town clean,” concluded Cllr Sibiya.

Estella Naicker

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