THE creation of an enabling environment for businesses to thrive is what the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber’s newly elected leaders want to prioritise during their two-year term in office.
Speaking at an informal meeting with the media at the chamber’s offices yesterday, chamber president Mandla Madwara and deputy president Neil Hart said they would work towards growing Nelson Mandela Bay as a business destination.
The pair, together with chamber chief executive Kevin Hustler, outlined the projects and focus of the organisation, which aims to tackle challenges faced by businesses in the city.
"We want to look at the problem of increasing electricity tariffs and also the turnaround time when dealing with the municipality when wanting to expand business – all in the hope that this will create an environment that is sensitive to business’s needs,” Madwara said.
He said the chamber was engaged in lobbying the National Energy Regulator of South Africa and the municipality on the city’s increasingly high electricity tariffs, as well as infrastructure maintenance and improvement. Acknowledging the challenges faced by business in the city, Madwara said robust engagement and collaboration with key stakeholders was also needed to ensure that critical projects came to fruition.
"We are concerned about the political instability that we are seeing in the city and ... the situation will not go away on its own. This city belongs to all of us but the instability is not helping business to attract investors to the city,” he said.
He commended the chamber for its work in lobbying for projects to stimulate growth, including the much-anticipated PetroSA refinery at the Coega industrial development zone, Project Mthombo, and the proposed waterfront facility at the Port Elizabeth harbour, as well as other projects.
"We will continue to interact with various stakeholders, including Eskom, Transnet and others on what business needs to grow in the city,” he said.
Madwara said the chamber had been working furiously for the past three years to secure the Coega IDZ as the preferred site for the refinery.
Hart applauded the foundation laid by the organisation, and said it was an exciting time for the city as more projects were in the pipeline to stimulate growth.