Over the next 20 years more than R750 million will be ploughed into a project to uplift the rural communities of the Eastern Cape.

The project will be service delivery based with focus on the upgrading of  road infrastructure. The first towns to benefit are Ngqeleni and Libode.

Ngqeleni  is a place of unmarked streets and no street lights, often leading to congestion. This is a common problem in many rural towns but this will soon be only a memory.

“We have spent in access of over R45 million in this intervention programmes. We have identified the road infrastructure, water infrastructure, and sanitation including the question of collection to be one of the areas that will contribute to give a shot in the arm in our municipalities,” says Eastern Cape Premier, Phumullo Masualle.

Emerging construction companies are also targeted as service providers. Bathabile Construction Services is one of the contractors and it has endeavoured to employ young people.

“We have managed to employ 54 people, sub-contracted three sub-contractors of which they were all doing paving on this project. The paving was plus minus 10 000 square metres and according to our own policy and vision we have managed to uplift around about 54 people and I think the skills labourers that got skilled through this project it’s about 10 people,” says Mkhuseli Tofa of Bathabile Construction Services.

“We consider the question of access in all the areas as key because all investors and everyone that want to embark on any project do consider the question of access, because the small town revitalization  programme deals with the infrastructure improvement including water, electricity and roads  which are the services that everyone considering in every area,” says  Nyandeni Municipality Mayor, Mesuli Ngqondwana.

Nine rural towns are earmarked for development:  Ngqeleni, Libode, Alice, Kirkwood, KwaBhaca, eMaxesibeni, Ntabankulu, Mbizana and Port St Johns.

Reviving the town of Port St Johns will be based on improving access to the coastal jewel. The aim is to increase tourist numbers to generate revenue and make it the gateway to the world renowned wild coast.