PEDI CEO presents the case for development in Philippi

PEDI welcomed representatives from the Western Cape Provincial Parliament who made a site visit to Philippi to understand the challenges and opportunities facing the area.

CEO Thomas Swana made a presentation regarding Water and Food Security, sustainable Economic Opportunities and job creation in the area, focusing on the strategic role that the PHA is able to play and how the area can serve the needs of the communities who live in the area.

Swana noted that a narrow focus on the PHA, as important as it is, would be problematic, as the area is only one component of many components which must be examined together, to realise the full value that it can provide and sustain, to all stakeholders.

PEDI Presentation on Water and Food Security, sustainable Economic Opportunities and job creation

— Thomas Swana, CEO, PEDI

Honoured guests, we are here to discuss the merits of the social and economic attributes of the PHA and what the strategic importance of the area is to the City and Province’s struggles with food and water security, new business development, job creation, new skills development, employment, health, education, poverty eradication, hope….this list goes on and on, but there is a problem with this approach because the PHA, as important as it is, is only one component of many components which must be examined together, to realise the full value that it can provide and sustain, to all stakeholders.

These include public sector, business and private sector and the community itself.

The frustration is, we keep looking at components one at a time, and we are not looking at all the components together to see how they connect and how they can drive each other…a bit like a machine or a watch mechanism.

The most interesting aspect of Philippi is that it has many component parts which by design can actually work together but the “mainspring” is built in four parts representing industrial sectors.

  1. Agriculture and the PHA with the resulting opportunities for agri-processing. Presently, we are getting only parts of this and not the full picture…e.g. the proposed Hallal Agri Parks in the airport industrial area but not yet in Philippi.
  2. Waste recycling.
  3. Transport
  4. Construction

This is why we need to get into a helicopter because one can’t see these four sectors working together at ground level. If you look at the PHA at ground level you can’t see the residential and industrial elements as you head east from the PHA toward the Philippi East Industrial Area. Likewise, if you are standing in Philippi East on the corner of New Eisleben and Govan Mbeki, you can’t see the PHA. Neither can you see the corner of Govan Mbeki and Stock Road, or the corner of Stock Road and Sheffield Road or the corner of Sheffield Road and New Eisleben, or the connection between this block and the N2, or the connections of Philippi East to the R300 and the Cape Town International Airport. The transport systems are road, rail and air based. They all exist already, and while they cannot be seen, are all about to explode into expansion.


All these components connected and together create a tapestry of opportunity not being seen as it should – for its economic and socio value and benefits.

We have to start somewhere at ground level… so maybe, let’s start at the airport because helicopters are allowed to fly in and out.

Let’s go to 100m.

We can see all of Philippi East and the airport together. There’s Teguka Industrial Park, Marikana (Yes… we didn’t see that coming and there is enormous risk that other invasions can happen), the Joe Qabi long distance bus transport interchange, The Philippi Fresh Produce Market for emerging farmers (which was built at a cost R28 million over 12 years ago and has never serviced any, not one emerging farmer). Behind the PFPM is Waste 2 Food and the PEDI Urban Agriculture Academy, just to the north of the PFPM there is vacant land, industrially zoned, serviced and the  cheapest industrial land in Cape Town.

Now let’s refer to ECAMP – the CoCT’s Economic Area Management Plan which place Philippi in the “Opportunity Development Sector” given all the catalytic projects being initiated in and around the area.

What are all these road works on the N2 and Stock Road? These are being driven by ECAMP information.

Let’s go up to 200 metres.

There is Philippi Village and there is a large sign saying the new Junction Mall will start in 2017.

Apparently the City’s largest MyCiti bus terminals are going to be located somewhere on the areas we can see on the New Eisleben, Sheffield, Stock and Govan Mbeki Roads (“The Block”) …all this development in the next 5 years.

Let’s go to 1000 metres.

Now we see all the agriculture, but only half looks like it is being farmed in patches…but look at how much is being farmed in the other half…and look at all the surface water! We are acutely aware of our drought conditions! Yet, where is all that water coming from?? There are 45,000 people working in the PHA and they are producing 200,000 tons of produce every year, but only on half the land. How many more could be working and how much more food can we actually produce if we did something to farm the rest using some slightly modern technology such as can be seen at the PEDI Urban Agriculture Academy. If we build on the PHA we reduce the productive growing of products consumed by Cape Town. We risk losing the bulk water supply opportunities. We may have the houses which can be built in the PHA, BUT people who live there and in the rest of the city will have to pay more for food and lose the job opportunities which can be improved through agriculture and agri-processing, and the all-important resource of the Aquifer. The food we produce in the centre of Cape Town will have to be brought from other parts of the country or imported. If we grow more food using the space available, we could actually export food not consumed locally. Preserving the PHA creates opportunity for Cape Town and its people, building on the PHA creates liability for the Cape Town and the environment.

At this height we can see all of Browns Farm, Sweet Home Farm, Samora Machel and all the other Philippi township areas. Almost 400,000 people reside in these areas. According to a report prepared for PEDI by DEMACON, if this were to be rebuilt it would cut back on Cape Town’s housing back log by 40%. If the township was systematically redeveloped using the principles behind Transit Orientated Development and 2 and 3 storey buildings to improve densification this area would go a long way to providing space to accommodate the building of houses.

We can also see the closeness of the PHA to the Philippi East Industrial area. People living in the townships in between these two economic nodes would have easy access to both areas for business and employment opportunities.

We can also see the link to the airport and how central all this is to the greater Cape Town area.

We can also see 6 out of the 16 MyCiti bus routes will converge in Philippi East, linking this area and spreading out to the CBD and all other parts of the City.

We can also see how the passenger rail also provides access from here to all parts of Cape Town.

We can also see how the N2 / Borcherd’s Quarry interchange will work to provide access to both the airport and Philippi

Now we can actually see the big picture and how much sense it would make to improve our focus and resources to protect and improve on what we have.

Now we can see the strategic nature of how all these components can work together and how important the PHA is to driving the potential end state which we anticipate from the study appointed by the Provincial Department of Agriculture.

If the PHA is as important as we believe it is, why not protect it and start paying attention to the abuse which we have allowed for so long with illegal dumping, contaminating the rivers leading to the northern portions, crime, etc., etc..

The summary from the DEMACON report (see attached presentation, or download this report from the PEDI website), shows the extensive potential of the Philippi area and the progress which has taken place since it was published in 2014.

PEDI continues to be a stakeholder in the plans to integrate infrastructure development for the MyCiti with formal and informal trading.

PEDI is currently engaged in drafting a master plan for informal trading in Philippi, to be developed by 2018”.

PEDI stresses the need for an integrated transversal team representing the Province and the City to make Philippi, its residents and the PHA become what it can.

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