Pho­keng – a town that boasts ex­cel­lence

CityPress - - Business -

Pho­keng, the town of the Royal Bafo­keng na­tion, is not the sleepy min­ing vil­lage you would ex­pect. It is sim­i­lar to a typ­i­cal mixed town­ship devel­op­ment, where there are a few mod­est homes min­gling with the more elab­o­rate ones.

The head­quar­ters for the op­er­a­tions of the Bafo­keng are in the Bafo­keng Civic Cen­tre, an im­pres­sive build­ing that was de­signed by the king, Kgosi Leruo Molotlegi, who is an ar­chi­tect.

The cen­tre also houses his of­fices, the tribal court, the supreme coun­cil (which is sim­i­lar to a par­lia­ment where de­ci­sions are made and mo­tions are de­bated) and the na­tion’s var­i­ous devel­op­ment agen­cies.

WORLD CUP HANG­OVER

As you en­ter the town of Pho­keng on the R565 from Joburg, the moun­tains are not the only fea­ture that stand out on the land­scape.

On the left is the ma­jes­tic build­ing of the ed­u­ca­tional fa­cil­ity, Le­bone Col­lege, and to the right is the 47 000-seater Royal Bafo­keng Sta­dium, which hosted six 2010 World Cup matches.

Now the sta­dium is the home of PSL club Plat­inum Stars.

The CEO of the Royal Bafo­keng Na­tion Devel­op­ment Trust, Obak­eng Phetwe, says there was a great deal of in­fra­struc­ture ac­tiv­ity from 2008 to 2010.

Af­ter the World Cup, there were vary­ing opin­ions about whether the World Cup ex­pense was worth it, but Kgosana Rapet­sana, who sits on the supreme coun­cil, says it was a good ex­pe­ri­ence for the Bafo­keng.

“We spent a lot of money around the 2010 World Cup be­cause we wanted to ex­pose our Bafo­keng peo­ple to the world and we wanted our peo­ple to feel a part of the World Cup and meet dif­fer­ent peo­ple from other parts of the world,” he says.

“There is no way you can at­tract peo­ple to the World Cup if you don’t spend a bit of money.

“We also ben­e­fited from that be­cause Fifa put money into the in­fra­struc­ture project and the legacy has im­proved.”

He says there were many road in­fra­struc­ture projects and a ho­tel was also built.

The Royal Marang Ho­tel was the base of the Eng­land team in 2010. It is part of a wider sports cam­pus that in­cludes a high-per­for­mance cen­tre and a train­ing fa­cil­ity that is mostly used by Plat­inum Stars.

The ho­tel’s gen­eral man­ager, Brett Dun­gan, says: “Af­ter the World Cup, our job is to make sure the fa­cil­ity is used prop­erly.” Ac­cord­ing to him, the health and well­ness el­e­ment is a good sell­ing point for the ho­tel.

WHEN THE MIN­ING STOPS

Dun­gan says tourism will con­tinue even af­ter the mines close. The ho­tel works with a num­ber of bed and break­fast es­tab­lish­ments and lodges in the area to cre­ate a tourism hub through the Royal Bafo­keng En­ter­prise Devel­op­ment agency.

The of­fi­cial es­ti­mate of the num­ber of years that plat­inum min­ing in the area will con­tinue is 50, ac­cord­ing to Royal Bafo­keng Hold­ings chief ex­ec­u­tive Al­berti­nah Kekana.

Ed­u­ca­tion is crit­i­cal in the na­tion’s plans to en­sure the town is sus­tain­able af­ter min­ing op­er­a­tions come to an end.

Another big-ticket in­fra­struc­ture item is the state-of-the-art Le­bone Col­lege.

It is a R450 mil­lion project that ac­com­mo­dates 700 pupils from Grade R to ma­tric.

To the out­sider, it might seem a lit­tle strange to spend so much money on a pri­vate school for only a few in a com­mu­nity of 150 000 peo­ple.

Ge­orge Har­ris, the found­ing prin­ci­pal of the school and CEO of the Royal Bafo­keng In­sti­tute for Ed­u­ca­tion and Hu­man Devel­op­ment, says the vi­sion was to have a school of ex­cel­lence that would also feed into the other 41 schools in the area.

He says the school is also be­ing used to train teach­ers, adding that more sus­tain­able so­lu­tions are be­ing sought for fund­ing, as 60% of the pupils at the school are paid for by the Bafo­keng on a slid­ing scale of needs.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.