Despite falling into disrepair, the Sedibeng fresh produce market has the potential of ensuring that Gauteng residents are given an extra boost in food security.
During a recent oversight visit to the market with the Gauteng Portfolio Committee on Finance, I had the opportunity to see the first-hand difference this market can make to the economy of this province when it is fully restored.
The Gauteng Infrastructure Finance Agency (GIFA) is responsible for taking government projects from initiation to the financial close stages and we are confident that this agency can make a success of the Sedibeng fresh produce market.
While we are yet to see the value GIFA has added to projects, this project might be the one where they can finally prove that they have a place in building new infrastructure and attracting private investors to fund and participate in projects in Gauteng.
This project can be regarded as low hanging fruit, but it is the perfect opportunity for GIFA to win back the trust of the DA and the residents of Gauteng.
If GIFA is successful, then this market, which was once the goose that laid the golden egg, but had no money for regular maintenance and upgrades, can be restored to its former glory.
This also means that farmers who drive to the Johannesburg fresh produce market but have their farms located closer to the Sedibeng area will no longer have to drive a long distance, which in turn means that the price of their goods may now be a bit lower.
In addition, it means that the embattled Emfuleni Local Municipality can potentially earn 8% per annum from the concessionaire.
Furthermore, more than 4000 jobs can potentially be created which will assist in reducing the unemployment rate in our province.
While we support this project which is being run by GIFA, we will be closely monitoring the progress made. Projects like the Kopanong precinct and the Jewellery Hub which have not fully gotten off the ground, despite being in the works for years, have led us to question whether GIFA should still be in existence.
This Sedibeng fresh produce market project is an opportunity for this entity to restore our faith in it. Should it not be making progress on the project as it should, we will ask through the committee that all the officials involved be held to account.