21 Dec

Andile Mnguni gestures around the ubiquitous sugarcane covered fields of KZN and his hands seem to caress the contours of the rolling green hills around him. Soon the transformation of this green will begin on a project of megalith proportions, writes Greg Ardé

The project will have a construction lifespan of some 20 years, depending on the market appetite for Ntshongweni, Durban’s newest and possibly biggest suburb.

Andile Mnguni is the Tongaat Hulett Developments (THD) executive responsible for Ntshongweni, a place synonymous with the nearby dam, Giba Gorge and the Summerveld racehorse training facility.

The area earmarked for development is 2 000ha. By comparison, the build in uMhlanga Ridge, La Lucia, Gateway and Cornubia is 1 700ha.

Ntshongweni is 30km from the port and 50km from Pietermaritzburg.

When development kicks off in March it will be the foundations of an 85 000m² mall and the widening of a two to six-lane access road.

The fact sheet on Ntshongweni is staggering in scale. Total development will be over 1 000 of the 2 000ha, and half of the land will be green open spaces.

It will grow from a central core of retail and mixed-use buildings to a logistics hub of 100ha and eventually thousands of new houses, social and recreational opportunities.

THD estimates 400 000 short-term construction jobs over the total lifespan of the project, 35 000 permanent jobs and R700-million in additional rates to Durban per annum.

The total economic activity, THD says, will generate R5-billion to the Treasury in new taxes. Mnguni is a quiet chap, not prone to exaggeration, but driving the site with him the picture of promise comes alive. Cities are complex, growing and connected organisms and Mnguni is a passionate catalyst for growth in eThekwini.

He wants to see a city where people previously dislocated by spatial planning are able to connect easier, where work and play are more harmonious and less arduous.

THD’s prospectus for Ntshongweni has artist’s impressions of tree-lined boulevards and rooftop gardens. If the company didn’t have an admirable record of delivery in uMhlanga and elsewhere, one might be prone to scepticism.

Mnguni is in constant contact with all stakeholders in Ntshongweni as part of stakeholder engagements with neighbouring communities. Phase one kicks off next year with road, electrical and sewage infrastructure around the shopping centre. Kassier Road will be upgraded including extending the bridges over the N3 and M13.

Ntshongweni will unlock tons of opportunities for private developers, local businesses and the community starting with the shopping centre, and a wide range of residential and business opportunities.

“Ntshongweni can tie a lot of things together,” Mnguni says.

“We would like to unlock the tourism potential and connect people who live across the valley from one another. The logistics hub is only 30km from the port. Other logistic parks nearby talk to the prospects this holds. Equally important is the need to maintain and enhance the utilisation of the extensive open space networks from ecological, social and recreational perspectives. There are spaces for all stakeholders to experience in this exciting new urban precinct.”

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