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Friday Jan 31, 2014

Durban's Warwick plans get green light

The eThekwini Municipality has put the development of the Warwick Triangle back on track - four years after facing an angry backlash from Early Morning Market traders who objected to plans to build a R400 million mall on the historic site.

Yesterday the city asked a full sitting of council to approve plans to spend R123m on constructing pedestrian links, building hawker trading platforms and a sheltered taxi rank at the precinct.

Removed from the new plans, is the development of a mall, with the city promising to keep the Early Morning Market where it is.

The plan to develop the precinct was welcomed by councillors across party lines.

According to a report tabled to council, R63.5m would be spent constructing pedestrian links and hawker platforms around the Berea Road Station Mall and R59m would be spent on a taxi rank.

The council also gave the city the go-ahead to apply for funding from the National Treasury's Integrated City Development Grant to build an 'African Bazaar project' above the proposed taxi rank at Warwick.

Patrick Pillay of the Minority Front said development of the triangle was essential for business in the area. 'And the fact that the early morning market will remain, and trade won't be affected, is welcomed,' he said.

The DA's caucus leader, Zwakele Mncwango supported the development.

'The DA welcomes the plans. The DA is pro-development... The DA is however anti-corruption,' he said to heckles from ANC councillors.

Deputy mayor Nomvuzo Shabalala said the council had wanted to develop the area for many years.

'We wanted development to take place in terms of a process of consultation and making all stakeholders part of the development. This is one of the areas that have not seen any development over the years,' she said.

Shabalala said the upgrades around the Berea Road Station Mall would be made in conjunction with the Passenger Rail Association of South Africa, which was embarking on a multi-billion rand overhaul of train lines and stations across the country.

In 2009, the city got stiff resistance when it announced plans to evict traders from the market to make way for a multimillion-rand development of the area, which would have included a R400m mall.

The traders said the mall would end their livelihoods, and hauled the city off to court to stop the evictions.

In 2011, the municipality's economic development committee rescinded the decision to build a mall.

Harry Ramlall of the Early Morning Traders' Association said that while they were pleased that they no longer faced eviction they were upset that there were no plans to renovate the historic market.

'We have been asking for years for the market to be upgraded and every year we are promised it will be, and it doesn't seem it will ever get done.

'From where we sit it seems like the council wants to frustrate us in the hope that we will eventually leave. We are not leaving. It looks like there will be development all around the market and not at the market itself,' he said.

Daily News


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