New R190m lodge to benefit villagers
Joint project includes community, government and private investor
The construction of the Mkhambathi Lodge, which will be a joint venture between villagers, government and a private investor, is expected to take off in December.
Once the R190m project gets off the ground, it is expected to be completed in 18 months.
This came up at a presentation at the Tourism Indaba in Durban on Thursday.
About 40,000 people from seven Mkhambathi villages stand to benefit from the project.
The Mkhambathi Land Trust won a land claim in an area which forms part of the Mkhambathi Nature Reserve.
The land consists of 8,000 hectares of coastal reserve in the Wild Coast.
Villagers who were at the Tourism Indaba said they were happy the project would finally get off the ground.
Mkhambathi Land Trust chairperson Kholekile Qalaba, 78, said while there had been several hiccups leading to the development finally moving forward, they were ready to reap the rewards that it would bring to the community.
“This joint venture is the first of its kind. Something of this nature has never happened in our community.
“Not only will it empower the unemployed through job creation, but it will put Mkhambathi on the map and our town is going to be developed.
“Nothing makes us more proud than that,” he said.
Qalaba said while the community had had some internal quarrels over leadership roles, they had all agreed to put their grievances aside and focus on the bigger picture: allowing development to take place.
Another resident, Xoliswa Mhlanganyelwa, 58, said the community was excited at the prospect of development in their area.
“It has created so much hype and everybody is so excited and hopeful.
“Already we have tourists coming to the area for fishing within the demarcated areas, and with the lodge, we are sure to attract more people into our community,” she said.
Private investor Colin Bell said while he had just recently completed De Hoop Reserve, one of his developments in Lekker Water in the Western Cape, he was more excited about seeing the Mkhambathi development finally take off.
“Contrary to what many may perceive a developer to be, this is not just a development where a developer comes in, buys land and makes money. This is about the development of the community and not just through obtaining work at the lodge and the construction phase, but it will also have a ripple effect of many opportunities of development for the community.”
Bell said they had agreed to work with the community from the outset, and were committed to transferring skills and mentoring people.
Bell said construction was due to start at the end of 2019.
Economic development MEC Oscar Mabuyane’s spokesperson, Mvusiwekhaya Sicwetsha, echoed Bell, saying the project would take about 18 months to be completed...