Noupoort residents in the Northern Cape are bearing the brunt of increasing unemployment, following an exodus of companies from the small town.
Some residents say since many companies left town, people have found solace in drugs and violence. The far-flung areas are forgotten, with service delivery a growing challenge.
Many residents are singing from the same hymn sheet in saying that the town, which was previously an economic hub, is now a shadow of what it used to be.
Noupoort residents are grappling with many social issues, that some blame for the current state of a depressed economy in their town. Hermon Mckenzie, a local resident, says even new projects are now left unfinished in their area.
“That’s very worse. You see in a year a contractor comes, but nothing is delivered. Only when elections come you see there are new projects, but from there on nothing.”
‘Hold councillors accountable’
With local government elections taking place this weekend, youngsters too have lost hope. But, some like Sihle Wonga, have urged those not planning to vote to reconsider and hold those in power accountable.
“I also want to encourage the young people to vote, so that we can hold our councillors, who are emerging as councillors, accountable. So that they can bring opportunities and grant young people opportunities. Even without being employed, so that there can be youth centres so we can be able to have activities for young people, so they can become active on their rightful place as young people.”
Political analyst, Professor Andre Duvenhage says the town’s economy took a huge knock since the decline of railway road activity.
“Noupoort is a typical case of a small miner town that is functioning on one core industry. And in this case, it is Transnet and it is the railway. Since 1994 we have seen a decline in the railroad activity, there was no diversification of the economy and the result is when Spoornet became dysfunctional and not in use anymore it crippled the whole economy of that town.”
Residents believe their poor living conditions will continue until viable economic opportunities come to their town.