The MBDA doing it's part
In 2008 the MBDA commissioned a plan for the regeneration of the Donkin Reserve, which is at the heart of the inner-city, that would serve as a catalyst transforming the face of the city of Port Elizabeth, creating a new heritage for all citizens; and a project which contributes to the branding of Nelson Mandela Bay, both nationally and internationally. Arts and culture, urban design and the crafts were seen as the key agents of delivery, definition and story telling within this place-making project.
The concept of the Freedom Walk, known for the moment as ROUTE 67 was developed to knit the inner city together, linking heritage sites, open spaces, civic squares, the entertainment and catering areas and major cultural venues.
The Journey will be initiated and implemented between the Donkin Reserve and the Campanile. At the moment the MBDA is upgrading the old Jetty Street into a pedestrianised mall that will enable people to walk from the Campanile, through Jetty Street to Vuyisile Mini Square, the City Library, up St Mary’s Terrace to the Donkin Reserve. The Journey will comprise of 67 giant steps, 67 pieces of art and 67 artists, commemorating 67 years of NELSON MANDELA’s political life in parallel to the other victories of our city. The culmination of the walk is in the GREAT FLAG on the Donkin Reserve – the symbol of our achievement of democracy. The flag is the highest flagpole in South Africa at 45 meters and the biggest flag in South Africa (12 meters X 8 meters) and has already become a tourist attraction as the flag can be seen from all angles entering the city.
The journey will celebrate the role of the international community, civil society as well as governments in transforming this Metro.
The Donkin project will include the construction of an amphitheatre that will become the focal point of art, music and dance in the Eastern Cape. The Walk will also have a strong connection with the Red Location Museum, and together will form a strong tourism product.
Funding for this project has been received from the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality (NMBM). And further funds from the National Lottery, used for the art works, public artworks programme, skills development workshops, an education programme ensuring that all of the high school children of the Metro have made “The Journey” by the end of 2011.
This brings us to another project of the MBDA, the upgrade of Uitenhage Market Square. Phase One of the Uitenhage Market Square revitalisation has been completed. Work on Phase Two which has already started involves the upgrading of Market and Chase streets, painting the library and façade of the electricity offices, upgrading toilets in the town hall and informal trader kiosks.
By the upgrading of the infrastructure in the area and thereby instilling investment confidence in the precinct, this will create an environment that would draw private sector investment in the area.
The MBDA is doing its part to put some life back into the town and restore its pride. The Nelson Mandela Bay is fast becoming a place that can take its place both nationally and internationally. So watch this space….