KZN MEC Ravi Pillay vows clamp down on construction mafia at launch of R4.5bn investment site

KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Ravi Pillay has slammed the criminality of business forums who have stopped the construction of projects worth millions of rands in the province, declaring that provincial government would not tolerate the acts of “economic sabotage”.

Pillay made the comments at the construction of the first phase of a R4.5bn chemical manufacturing plant that is expected to create 800 construction jobs and 300 permanent jobs on the KZN north coast.

On Thursday, Pillay officiated the launch of Nyanza Light Metals Centre and inspected the progress of the construction at the Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone (RBIDZ).

Described as one of the province’s catalytic economic projects, the investment by Nyanza Light Metals – a chemical manufacturing company – to construct a chemical complex will see the building of a Technical Services Centre that is currently underway and two other phase over 36 months.

The R4.5bn investment will see the production of over 80 000 tons per annum of titanium dioxide (TiO2) pigment as well as other titanium related products, colour pigments, gypsum, and water treatment chemicals such as iron sulphate (copperas) and aluminium sulphate (alum).

The titanium dioxide (TiO2) pigment is widely used in the manufacturing of products such as paints, industrial coatings, plastics, papers, inks, foods, medicines (i.e. pills and tablets) as well as most toothpastes.

According to the KZN Department of Economic Development, the project is in line with the RBIDZ’s mandate of being a purpose-built and secure industrial estate tailored for the manufacturing of goods and production of services to boost beneficiation, investments, economic growth, job creation and the development of skills.

Speaking at the launch of the Nyanza Light Metals Technical Services Centre on Thursday, Pillay said the construction was testimony to a collective determination to create a prosperous province and country.

He said that some developments in the province had been hampered by acts of “economic sabotage”.

The MEC was referring to the emergence of “business forums” that have used intimidation tactics at construction sites to demand a piece of the contracts.

“Our position as the provincial government is clear: We support economic transformation as provided for in our legal framework, but we will not tolerate any form of criminality irrespective of who is behind it or what banner they hide behind.

“Addressing the KZN Economic Council Summit on Thursday last week, Premier Sihle Zikalala put it succinctly when he said: “We are working closely with law enforcement agencies and communities to fight crime, including economic sabotage crimes. Working with national government, we are determined to fight those who hijack construction sites and extort bribes. Such actions are not any way close to the ANC’s interpretation of Radical Economic Transformation,” he said.

Pillay said the current administration has put renewed energy into the fight against corruption both in the public and private sectors.

“We understand that corruption has eroded public trust and undermined investor confidence. We are determined to avert that situation. We are also scaling up our support to municipalities so that they can effectively address issues related to water and electricity supply. These are economic issues and must be given priority as we embark on the path to economic recovery,” he said.

The investment by Nyanza Light Metals is part of over R6bn worth of investments projects currently underway at two estates of the RBIDZ.

In addition, Pillay said the RBIDZ has already signed investments of more than R15 billion representing different key sectors of the economy.

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