Reviving and revitalizing our township economy



by MBDA Board Chairperson, Mphuthumi Phil Goduka.

Those who have grown up around this neighbourhood referred to this street as “Boas”. Where that name comes from is not the subject for now, today the street is officially named, Singaphi Street. This iconic street connects the popular Ferguson Road to the iconic Red Location precinct which house the Red Location Museum. The MBDA’s R40 million Singaphi Street environmental upgrade is unlocking a vibrant township economy for the precinct.

The Singaphi Street development in New Brighton is a strategic programme creating continuity between Route 67 in the inner city and the Red Location Museum in New Brighton. The precinct is especially rich in arts, culture, heritage and the liberation struggle.

New Brighton’s Singaphi Street is seen as a catalytic project in terms of township development aligned to the public participation processes that were initiated in the inner city. The upgrade, which commenced in August in 2014 introduced new infrastructure delivery and public art programmes following MBDA’s philosophy that downstream investment, job creation and local economic development follows after public sector urban upgrading investment.

The results of the MBDA’s latest economic barometer, which includes both formal economic impact assessment evaluations and two distinct surveys polling confidence levels of businesses and residents – revealed:

• A higher number of property owners and residents are making improvements to business premises and residences in New Brighton;
• From a local economic development perspective, businesses and SMME’s near the Singaphi Street development increased turn-over with 15% in the last year;
• Approximately 25% of surveyed businesses indicated that they were planning to make improvements to their properties in the near future versus 20% in the previous year.

Both businesses and residents indicated that the overall upgrades were viewed in a highly positive light with 86.8% of all respondents indicating either an extremely positive (14.3%) or positive (72.5%) response. Residents proved to be notably more positive about the upgrades than businesses with 88.7% indicating either an extremely positive (14.3%) or positive (74.4%) response.

Of the businesses in the area, 30% indicated that they had hired additional staff. This is double the 15% recorded in the previous year. Respondents to the 2016 Barometer also reported an either slight or significant increase in turnover, which increased from 30% in 2014 to 45% in 2015.

The total value invested by New Brighton business and residential property owners into properties over a two year period was R8 million.

The objective of this project is to develop a unique cultural precinct and economic node, which can support the creative economy rooted in the arts, culture and heritage of the area. The people aspect on this project is probably the most important result that is at times difficult to quantify. The impact of the upgraded open spaces, the parks and outdoor gyms has greatly improved the quality of life in Singaphi and that gives us hope that through programmes like this, we can drive the change we want to see.

Fully stocked: A local trader moving her goods along the revamped Singaphi Street.
Fully stocked: A local trader moving her goods along the revamped Singaphi Street.
Through the environmental upgrade, Eddy’s Hair Salon now has fresh new paving which has enhanced the business’s trading environment.
Through the environmental upgrade, Eddy’s Hair Salon now has fresh new paving which has enhanced the business’s trading environment.
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