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R900 000 pharmacy for Libode residents expected to bring relief

Mar 9, 2020
R900 000 pharmacy for Libode residents expected to bring relief

Mthatha - Residents of Ntlaza Village in Libode no longer have to travel 19kms to get to the nearest pharmacy in town or fork out R56 to and from Mthatha.

Teezeez Legacy, a group of three young pharmacists have partnered with Tukela Mtembu of Ulundi Caltex Service Station in Ntlaza to open only the second pharmacy in the small town.

The partners have put up R900 000 to set up the pharmacy which was recently officially opened by the OR Tambo District Municipality executive mayor Thokozile Sokhanyile on Saturday.

The costs of setting up the business included R500 000 from the pharmacists which included stock as well as more than R300 000 on infrastructure costs such as septic tanks and bathroom facilities.

The only other pharmacy is located some 19kms from Ntlaza in the Libode CBD. The pharmacy opened its doors to the villagers in October 2019 and it has since seen substantial growth in visitor numbers.

The pharmacy also boasts a clinic which is run by a retired medical nurse at a minimal fee for consultation. The clinic works with the government clinic (gateway clinic) in the area to transfer patients with serious cases to the Ntlaza Hospital.

“The establishment of Ntlaza Pharmacy at the Ulundi Service Station Caltex in Ntlaza is an important milestone for the people of Ntlaza who no longer have to fork out R56 to and from Mthatha to access pharmaceutical services particularly for the elderly. The nearest pharmacy is also some 19kms away from Ntlaza," says Mtembu, the founder of Ulundi Service Station Caltex.

"The opening of the pharmacy is important in bringing health services closer to poorer communities. The pharmacy is located on a stretch of road that services traffic from Mthatha onto to other provinces and towns.

“The establishment of the pharmacy also assists the nearest hospital which often experiences medicine shortages. Traffic has grown month-on-month and we are delighted that we were also able to offer free health and wellness screenings to elderly residents on the day of our official opening."

Attended by the executive mayor of the OR Tambo, the opening of the pharmacy was also attended by the chief executive officer of the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) Ndzondelelo Dlulane and representatives of First National Bank and other service station franchise owners of brands such as Caltex and Sasol.

“ECDC is delighted that it contributed to the opening of the pharmacy through its non-financial support instruments. ECDC also assisted the pharmacy with marketing material which is crucial for overall brand awareness. ECDC is also particularly pleased that the official opening of the pharmacy happens at Ulundi Service Station which celebrated its eighth-year in business on the day.

“It was in August 2011 that ECDC advanced a loan to Tukela Mtembu to help set up Ulundi Service Station Caltex which opened its doors in February 2012. The service station managed to repay the loan well before the five-year repayment period which was not only an indication of growth but a commitment to honour their obligation to other deserving entrepreneurs.

"This is a beautiful story of growth and sustainability as the business has now grown to include a pharmacy as well as a convenience store. We are pleased to have been part of this journey,” says Dlulane.

Mtembu, who left his corporate marketing job in 2011 to start the business, says the pharmacy employs five people while the service station and its forecourt employs an additional 15 people.

“It has been a challenging yet rewarding journey for Ulundi Service Station Caltex which started with just two petrol pumps when we opened our doors with four employees. Today we have six pumps, a convenience store as well as a pharmacy,” says Mtembu.

IMAGE: FROM LEFT – ECDC Chief Executive Officer Ndzondelelo Dlulane, OR Tambo District Municipality executive mayor Thokozile Sokhanyile, Mrs Mtembu and Tukela Mtembu.

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