The troubled community of Ventersdorp in the North West have been handed a lifeline with the start of the construction of the long awaited N14 development project.

The small farming town has been the scene of numerous protests with residents demanding the construction of the multi-billion rand project that was promised in 2006. The JB Marks Municipality hosted a sod turning event with residents ahead of construction.

“The implementation of the project will see us putting up development of housing, commercial and industrial development. The local contractors need to be empowered and that they will also be having a share in the development,” says Luvuyo Malinga of Matonoka Holdings.

The project is also expected to bring significant economic benefits to the area.

“This is the kind of development that we need in our communities to come and say I am going to make a change within this area. And you must also understand it will not only benefit this specific area but because it’s in a very strategic point in terms of your routes, if you want to go to Botswana this is the point you must pass. If you want to go to Rustenburg, Johannesburg Free State, Kimberly, Bloemfontein, this is the central point,” says JB Marks Municipality Acting Executive Mayor, Calvin Johnson.

Meanwhile, residents say the project could not have come at a better time considering the years of delay.

“We should have been celebrating the completion of the project because it should have started 10 years ago not today, however we are very happy,” says one resident.

“We are happy because it is going to rectify all the challenges that we were having,” adds another resident.

The JB Marks Municipality says a budget of between R3.5 billion and R10 billion has been earmarked for the project.