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Mabuyane: The Wild Coast needs Shell

Premier Oscar Mabuyane.
Premier Oscar Mabuyane.
Image: MARL ANDREWS

While it supports Shell’s move to carry out seismic blasting on the Wild Coast, the Eastern Cape government intends to meet the oil giant’s bosses to raise concerns voiced in a spate of public protests across the country against the plans.

Premier Oscar Mabuyane on Tuesday told the Bhisho legislature that even though his government supported the Wild Coast blasting, it would not allow it to be done in a way that was detrimental to the environment.

Mabuyane said the Shell initiative was one of many to better the lives of ordinary folk in the area, adding that those who opposed it wanted to see such communities remain in squalor.

Speaking during a hybrid legislature sitting, moments after finance MEC Mlungisi Mvoko had delivered his adjusted mini-budget, Mabuyane said the provincial government was concerned that the people of the Wild Coast faced challenging socioeconomic conditions.   

“As the provincial government we have felt the need to support Shell’s initiative.

“This is because it is only in the Wild Coast where people living along the coast are so poor.

“Elsewhere in the world and across the country, people living along the coast are very rich. That needs to change in the Wild Coast.

“We are concerned that there are people out there who are hell-bent on making sure our people remain poor, and remain victims of the migrant labour system.

“They go around proclaiming the richness of the Wild Coast, doing so in a sea of poverty for our ordinary people.”

The premier said the province welcomed any development that sought to help the people of the Wild Coast.

“But it must be a sustainable development that cannot be done to the detriment of the environment at all costs.”

Mabuyane added: “We have got to find ways to claim the Wild Coast for the sole benefit of the ordinary people who stay along that coast.”

He called on all concerned civic organisations and environmentalists to work hand in hand with his government, “to make sure that all the concerns that are being raised, are looked at and addressed”.

His government would soon organise a meeting with Shell bosses “for them to come to us and present, so we can understand these concerns that are being raised out there”.

Delivering his medium-term budget adjustment, Mvoko said the provincial government was ahead with the infrastructure development for the establishment of the agro-processing sector development in the Wild Coast region, towards regional economic development and agriculture sector development.

Mvoko said the Wild Coast special economic zone development programme was at an implementation stage, as the department of trade, industry & competition had approved the platform as an industrial park.

“As the investment pipeline matures, we will be pushing for SEZ designation,” he said.

Mvoko said the province had invested R35m for security fencing for the demarcated industrial platform for development.

The fence was almost completed, and so far six SMMEs had been appointed as subcontractors, with 50 people employed. 

“The DTIC has further approved R49m from their critical infrastructure fund for the rollout of bulk infrastructure.

“We have so far secured four investors, with an investment value of R1.07bn, which is projected to create 968 operational jobs.

“Once fully operational, the Wild Coast SEZ will give the economy of the eastern side of our province a competitive advantage, considering that this kind of initiative was found only at the Border and the western side of our province.”

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