Bay’s €5-million Helenvale SPUU Project a blueprint for the world

SEPTEMBER 1, 2016

The Mandela Bay Development Agency (MBDA) on Thursday hosted a mid-term review workshop on the implementation of the €5-million German government funded Safety and Peace through Urban Upgrading (SPUU) programme for Nelson Mandela Bay’s Helenvale – a South African community deeply affected by crime, drug abuse, domestic violence and poverty.

The workshop unpacked and analysed progress of this socio-economic upliftment and development programme for Helenvale.  Participants at the Medium Term Review (MTR) included project implementation agency MBDA, Executive Mayor Athol Trollip and Acting Municipal Manager Johan Mettler, community leaders, municipal and provincial delegates, social partners and community forums. 

In attendance was Gabriele Götz, KfW Development Bank Senior Project Manager: Governance and Natural Resources – Southern Africa.  She said her impression of the project was that the city seems to be really committed to the project .

“We have interest that the cities will use the Helenvale project as a blueprint elsewhere,” she said. “Without commitment the project would not succeed. I would encourage other cities to replicate the model used here in Helenvale.”

The MBDA said that in relation to the project master plan, the overall SPUU project completion rate stood at 30% at the project half-way mark and that R20 million of projects have taken off.

The completion rate of the project’s strategic pillars was reported as follows:

  • Public space and infrastructure delivery stood at 40% completion (original project target: 70%);
  • Initiatives promoting safer schools was recorded at 45% (original project target: 60%);
  • Youth employment promotion stood at 25% (original project target: 50%);
  • Prevention of domestic violence was 30% (original target:  55%);
  • Improvement of living spaces stood at 30% (original target: 45%).

According to MBDA CEO Dr. Pierre Voges, the local elections affected deliverables on the project timeline.

“The last six months before the elections were not a good thing.  But, people have spoken and voted, and now we must put our heads down and work again.  We are slightly running behind on the original project timelines, but everyone is committed to work hard and work together to catch up.”

“The SPUU is currently running behind schedule, mostly due to the halt of activities between July 2015 and January 2016, and longer than expected processes of procurement of contractors.

“MBDA has however mitigated the project risks of leadership contests, by facilitating the inclusion of both Ward Committee and PAC in the decision-making processes.”

Dr. Voges said that certain risks, problems and challenges remain in place, and that it was necessary for the MBDA, the city and community of Helenvale to resolve them.

“We are worried about the housing project, and we are busy resolving this with the Municipality.  Next, we need to resolve the council-funded portion.  For every one rand spend provided by the German bank, we must put another rand back.    The funder needs this aspect resolved before we unlock the next trench of funding for this project.  

“Another worry for me is maintenance.   We need to find money to start maintain buildings and infrastructure we’ve created in Helenvale,” Dr. Voges said.  

Nelson Mandela Bay Executive Mayor Athol Trollip said the city and administration will work hard to make SPUU a success story for the metro and the world.

“Helenvale is the picture of peace and community life one day, and then suddenly it turns around when violence erupts.  We want to see this community transformed, and we want Helenvale to progress.   We are appreciative for the support and partnership of the German bank and the implementation thus far by the MBDA.  Nobody cannot support this good and beautiful initiative.” 

Trollip said he was concerned about the 200 houses in the housing pilot project promised to the community. “We will find out, and will discuss it with our partners. We can’t tell people they get houses, and then we don’t build and deliver them.  We will investigate this and get back to you.  No more empty promises.”

Trollip underscored the importance of community ownership.

“The only person who can break the cycle of dependency is the community.  Successful communities take ownership and take stewardship. This initiative will especially progress if Helenvale takes ownership and take stewardship.  

The MBDA also provided an update on the remainder of activities of the programme leading up until January 2018.

Image: FUTURE UNPACKED: Nelson Mandela Bay Executive Mayor Athol Trollip, local Ward Councillor Pieter Hermaans and Gabriele Götz, KfW Development Bank Senior Project Manager attended the MBDA mid-term review workshop hosted at the Helenvale Resource Centre in Helenvale, Port Elizabeth.