Bank­ing on the Vaal River

Finweek English Edition - - INSIGHT - BY GLENDA WIL­LIAMS

In the quest for eco­nomic progress, mega c i t y de­vel­op­ments a r e be­com­ing al­most com­mon­place in South Africa. First, there was Wa­ter­fall Es­tate, then Steyn City, fol­lowed by Mod­der­fontein New City. The lat­est is Vaal River City, an­other mam­moth R11bn project lo­cated on the banks of t he Vaal River bet ween Vereenig­ing and Van­der­bi­jl­park.

Mir­ror­ing ma­jor cities around the world that re­side on the wa­ter’s edge, the 250ha por­tion of land, with its sweep­ing, panoramic views of the Vaal River and 6km of river frontage, will form the Vaal River City devel­op­ment, which aims to re­gen­er­ate t his key industrial node in South­ern Gaut­eng, once a thriv­ing hub of the steel in­dus­try.

Cen­tral to the node’s re­vival is the Vaal River, the un­tapped po­ten­tial of which the Vaal River City Devel­op­ment Com­pany in­tends to un­lock with its new hy­dropo­lis and en­ter­tain­ment hub.

Head­ing up the Vaal River City Devel­op­ment Com­pany i s CEO Reg­gie Kukama, with orig­i­nal owner Giuseppe Plumari re­tain­ing a 30% stake. Ac­quired by Plumari in 1996 and in­cor­po­rated into Steyn City Prop­er­ties, the 250ha site was sold to the BEE con­sor­tium of Kukama, Bridg­man Sit­hole and Fer­nando Acafrao in 2008. The new devel­op­ment owns the land and has the com­mit­ment of gov­ern­ment to part­ner with it to­wards con­tribut­ing ser­vices and in­fra­struc­ture.

“This 250ha por­tion of land is the most prom­i­nent land avail­able in the re­gion, sit­u­ated among some of the ma­jor road net­works in­clud­ing the R59 and R42 and is f lanked by two bridges that cross the river to Sa­sol­burg. It is not only highly ac­ces­si­ble and vis­i­ble, it is also ide­ally sit­u­ated and its 6km of ‘coast­line’ makes it prom­i­nent and de­sir­able from a leisure per­spec­tive. When you talk about po­si­tion, po­si­tion, po­si­tion, this piece of land has all those at­tributes mak­ing it ideal for the new river city,” says Plumari.

An­chored by the Vaal River, the devel­op­ment will be a sig­nif icant eco­nomic boost to a re­gion with a stag­nat­ing econ­omy. The re­gion has his­tor­i­cally been heav­ily de­pen­dent on a f lag­ging steel in­dus­try and suf­fers from poor in­fra­struc­ture, a lack of

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