Agency Development and Support

Change comes to Stutterheim

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Change comes to Stutterheim

Town regeneration efforts have resulted in a clean, welcoming environment in the Stutterheim CBD. There are smart new stalls for informal traders, and a rather tidy taxi rank. It augurs well for further Aspire plans.

June 21, 2013

ADSstutter insideStutterheim is looking swish after upgrades 

A visitor to Stutterheim, in Eastern Cape, will be struck by the tidiness of the town. Unlike most small towns in the region, Sutterheim looks new – too new for a settlement established almost two centuries ago.

Nestled in the foothills of the Kologha Mountains, Stutterheim is about 80 kilometres from East London, along the N6 road. The estimated population of the town is 63 000, according to Statistics South Africa.

The town’s central business district recently received a facelift from the Amathole District Municipality through its development agency, Aspire, or the Amathole Economic Development Agency. The agency installed new paving, street lights, hawkers’ stalls, street benches and street signs. There is also a new taxi rank, with ample parking for 200 taxis.

“The CBD upgrade started in 2011 and involved four small construction enterprises. The project included an upgrade of roads within the central business district with the highest concentration of pedestrian traffic and commercial activity. This included areas along the two main roads – McLean and Hill streets – the intersection of Grey Square and the main taxi rank and immediate surrounds,” said Aspire project manager Duduzile Radebe.

ADSstutter insideNew vendor stalls give the town a new look

Work included repairing pavements and laying of new paving; installing new street benches; planting of trees; extending and “modernising” the taxi rank; repairing and upgrading the northern half of Grey Square; and upgrading public toilets.

In March, officials from the Industrial Development Corporation’s Agency Development and Support unit and Aspire journeyed to Stutterheim to see just how the town had been transformed. Walking down the high street, Mclean Street, the visitors were impressed by the lack of litter, and by the innovative hawkers’ stalls. Young trees fluttered in the breeze at Grey Square.

Down Hill Street, leading to the taxi rank, the area was abuzz with life. Commuters rushed to catch taxis to East London and other places. And the hawkers, looking professional in their new stalls, were doing roaring business selling food, traditional wear and a variety of goods. Most impressive was the taxi rank – compared to most taxi ranks in South African cities, it looked as tidy as a soldier’s bunk.

The upgrades, which took 12 months to complete, cost over R29-million and created 60 jobs for locals, according to Radebe. The upgrades were undertaken to increase the town’s appeal for residents and visitors, while also making it more user-friendly for pedestrians, vehicles and taxis, said Radebe. The CBD serves people from the surrounding townships and villages of Mlungisi, Cenyu, Cenyuland, Kubusi and Kologha.

ADSstutter insideThe new taxi rank along Hill Street

To go with its new look, a new town brand was launched in 2011 with the tagline, “Stutterheim – Pure Pleasure”. It was developed with the help of Stutterheim residents who submitted poems and stories telling the story of the small town and what it meant to them.

The CBD upgrades are just part of a wider Stutterheim town regeneration project expected to pump about R100-million into transforming the town into a place where people can live, shop and work in a safe environment. The regeneration initiative was mooted in 2007 and began with public consultations to identify the town’s needs. A vision for the regeneration materialised out of this, a vision which sees Stutterheim as “a safe, clean town where all people work together, with a growing economy supplied by local businesses and services; supported by good governance, leadership, education and infrastructure to generate investment opportunities”.

Other project focus areas include:

  • The spatial integration of Stutterheim with Mlungisi township to open up new economic opportunities through building a bridge linking the town’s CBD with the township. The R15-million Cumakala Bridge and access road were officially opened on 9 June 2012 and halves the distance residents must travel between Stutterheim and Mlungisi. Construction was funded by the National Treasury’s Neighbourhood Development Partnership Grant and was implemented by Aspire and the Amahlathi Municipality.
  • Construction of a community commercial park in Mlungisi started in October 2011 to provide a variety of services to residents of the township and surrounding areas. These include a satellite post office and police station; a municipal pay point; library, multipurpose community hall; LoveLife youth centre and clinic; pharmacy; entertainment areas including an amphitheatre, sports fields and wellness centre; and shops such as a supermarket, market area, restaurant, hair salon, hardware store and clothing stores, among others.
  • Abenzi Woodhouse, a section 21 company founded by Aspire and Amahlathi Local Municipality, trains young people to make furniture. During their training, they make furniture on order for locals. They are also taught technical and business skills that will boost their chances of employment, and possibly open up doors for them to set up their own businesses. The main aim of Abenzi Woodhouse is to develop the forestry value chain and position Stutterheim as a timber processing destination.
  • A Petro Park on the N6. The one-stop facility will cater for travellers along the N6 at the town’s entrance from East London. It will include a service station, coffee shops, visitor’s information office, and entertainment area for children. The National Treasury’s National Development Partnership Grant has allocated a funding envelope to Aspire of R273-million to include the small towns of Alice, Butterworth, Dutywa, Hamburg and Stutterheim.

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