Mandela Bay Development Agency | Nelson Mandela Bay | Port Elizabeth | Uitenhage | Despatch | South Africa
Mandela Bay Development Agency | Nelson Mandela Bay | Port Elizabeth | Uitenhage | Despatch | South Africa
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Mandela Bay Development Agency | Nelson Mandela Bay | Port Elizabeth | Uitenhage | Despatch | South Africa


2014-04-04 04:27:41 PM

Helenvale is a suburb in the Northern Areas of Port Elizabeth. This vibrant, colourful, and at times dangerous and violent suburb that Patrick Palmer in his poem describes as ‘The rough diamond of the Bay’ is an area in need of substantial investment. Helenvale, like the rest of the Northern Areas is a manifestation of the Apartheid legacy that uprooted and forcefully displaced people from South End, Fairview, Willowdene and other areas under the Group Areas Act.

This suburb, originally developed to accommodate 6000 people, now provides tenancy for approximately 30 000 people and has experienced persistent under-development due to its compact size in terms of residential space and house sizes that varies between 25 and 30 m². This has created an over-populated township and subsequent problems such as unemployment, crime, drugs, gangsterism, teenage pregnancy and other concerns that has abraded the social fabric and community cohesion.

Out of this bleak picture emerges a scenario of hope ... those who arrived. One has to look at shining examples that traversed the same paths that today are successful business personas, doctors, lawyers, sport stars, teachers … and many other professions.

The most recent is Wilfred Wabanie who obtained a Science Degree at NMMU despite the fact that he had minimal resources and only support in-kind. It is clear that if guided to achieve, the Helenvale community will respond positively to it. They can then break the dependence on grants that is their main sustenance and have alternative competition to the social ills that dictate their daily lives.

The big question is: how do we affect such positive change to break the chain of under-development? The answer is: investment. The last five years saw investment in Helenvale to the tune of R78 million under the auspices of the Helenvale Urban Renewal Programme (HURP). This investment from National and Provincial government mainly focused on physical and infrastructural development with skills development and job creation opportunities for the community.

A further R50 million has been committed by KfW Bank (German Development Bank) for Safety and Peace through Urban Upgrading Programme (SPUU) that will be implemented by the Mandela Bay Development Agency (MBDA) to invest in interventions that will create a safer Helenvale through projects that focus on both physical and social infrastructure. Key to the success of the project would be the role of the Helenvale community.

To that end MBDA has through a bottoms-up, open and transparent practice guided a process of electing a Programme Advisory Committee that will be the voice of the broader community. The representative body is a group of vibrant and able individuals that voluntarily commits themselves to se change in their community.