The New Age: Warwick development shelved

Feb 25 2011 9:45AM
Warwick development shelved

Mlungisi Gumede

Public resistance, legal action by traders lead to plans for a mall on market site being put aside.

There’s good news for traders at the historic Warwick Avenue Early Morning market in Durban following the disclosure that the eThekwini Municipality is likely to shelve plans for a mall development at the site.

Addressing the municipality’s executive committee yesterday, City Manager Mike Sutcliffe said the R570m Warwick Development Project may be shelved following massive public resistance.

The development has been delayed because of legal action by the Early Morning Market traders who have fiercely fought against the removal of the market.

Sutcliffe said this during his presentation of the 2011-12 draft budget of R26bn for the city.

“The matter has dragged on for more than a year and it is still far from over,” he said.

The multi-million project was due to start in June 2009 but could not proceed as planned after the traders refused to move from the market and took the dispute to court.

Even the city’s offer to accommodate the displaced traders within the new development was rejected by traders, some of whom have been at the market for decades.

The matter was due to be heard in the Durban High Court in October but did not proceed after lawyers for the municipality and the developer, the Isolenu Group, did not show up.

Vice-chairperson of the Early Morning Market Association Million Kingwell Phehlukwayo is confident that the project has been permanently jettisoned.

“The government is talking about creating jobs but at the same time destroying opportunities that already exist. It just did not make sense,” he said.

Phehlukwayo said he could not understand why the city had chosen to locate a mall development at the market.

Another member of the association, Veeran Pillay, welcomed Sutcliffe’s statement as “good news”.

He said the 99-year-old Early Morning Market was a heritage site in Durban that had to be protected at all costs.

Trader Mani Govender, who sells fruits and vegetables in the market, was delighted that the city was considering “throwing in the towel” in the matter.

“This place was started by our forefathers nearly 100 years ago,” said Govender, “and it should not be destroyed.”

Another trader, Nokuthula Nkwinti, said the decision would save many jobs.