The Provincial Government of the Eastern Cape is progressively increasing the capacity to execute a series of major socio-economic infrastructure development programmes and projects.
During the 2012 policy pronouncement period that includes President Jacob Zuma and Premier Noxolo Kiviet's speeches, the province of the Eastern Cape received the biggest shot in the arm with a total of R130 billion committed over the next three to five years for massive infrastructure development covering the ports, roads, dams, airport, railway lines, energy supply and social infrastructure such as schools, hospitals and heritage sites.
In carrying out these major programmes a series of agreements was signed leading to among others the handover of strategic provincial roads including R72 to South African National Road Agency Ltd (SANRAL) (a government gazette was published confirming this), the Mthatha Airport to the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and the setting up of a provincial Project Management Unit for infrastructure development.
In response to your enquiry with regard to the Mthatha Airport we wish to confirm that the Premier of the Eastern Cape, Ms Noxolo Kiviet signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Defence for handing over the Mthatha Airport for the construction of a longer and wider runway to cater for the landing of major air-planes. The agreement is also part of the King Sabata Dalindyebo Presidential Intervention Programme aimed at revitalising the area and boosting its economic development potential in terms of business, tourism, national security and disaster management.
The Mthatha Airport project will cost over R312 million for the extension and expansion of the run way as well as facilities for parking. The project is expected to be completed in August 2012. In addition the Department of Transport is funding a R55 million new terminal building and accessories to unable the airport to provide better services which is expected to be completed in October 2012.
The agreement reached with the SANDF will be valid for five years with the Eastern Cape Provincial Administration and the SANDF having a shared responsibility for utilisation of the facility after which the full control will revert to the Eastern Cape government as primary custodians of the Mthatha Airport.
In terms of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) the Ministry of Defence and Military Veterans will utilise the airport for its training and military services whilst commercial operations, activities and developments will continue simultaneously with the Eastern Cape Department of Transport remaining the licence holder for all commercial operations. The agreement was sanctioned by the Provincial Executive Council on the 9 December 2011 leading to the agreement being signed by the Premier on 21 May 2012 in Mthatha.
Other major projects announced by the Premier during the State of the Province Address include: the development of the Port of Gqurha into a Transhipment Hub, the revamping of the East London Port to cater for additional cargo and the expected exports of coal generated from a mine kicked off by Premier Kiviet recently. Others include the Umzimvubu catchment programme estimated to cost R20 billion, upgrading of the N2 that is currently underway and other projects aimed at repositioning the Eastern Cape in the socio-economic landscape of South Africa.
The provincial government welcomes also a corresponding positive response from private sector investment spearheaded by the State Owned Companies which includes the establishment of the FAW truck manufacturing company, Project Umthombo and over R7 billion pipeline investments in the Ceoga Industrial Development Zone (IDZ).
The plans to reposition the Eastern Cape also received a further impetus with major commitments made by the national government during the provincial job summit held in East London recently. Overall the target is to create over 150 000 jobs in the province by 2015 while also boosting economic growth rate to 5% within the same period.
I trust that this would meet part of your requirements and I wish to assure you that progressively we will share this information on efforts to turn the Eastern Cape into another economic power house of South Africa.
I will continue to try to source a copy of the agreement.