The announcement made by the City of eThekwini confirming the reconstruction of the controversial Tongaat Mall, has brought renewed hope and hundreds of job opportunities, after nearly six years since it’s collapse.
New developers, AJ Property Holdings, were confirmed as the company taking over the project of bringing a “first-class shopping experience to the town’s central business district.” AJ Property Holdings took over construction from embattled Gralio Precast, the company of controversial Durban businessman Jay Sing, who was accused of doing shoddy work which led to the collapse of the Tongaat Mall.
The neck of a column exploded, causing the concrete slab it was supporting to collapse and crush two workers. Two people were killed and 29 others were seriously injured when a section of the mall collapsed during construction on 19 November 2013.
AJ Property Holdings community liaison manager, Owen Nxumalo said local communities will benefit from around 500 jobs which will be created during the construction phase with a further 350 jobs created once the mall opens. Construction is due to begin at the end of July, demolishing of the old structure has already begun.
Nxumalo said the opening of the mall is expected to be in November 2020 and it will be a mix of national stores and local tenants together to usher in a new shopping experience for communities in the north of Durban. “The mall will bring value and convenience as well as a myriad of possibilities of great shopping within aesthetically appealing spaces. It will offer a safe and structured platform for customers to enjoy their shopping experience as a formal establishment which will host nationally recognised brands under one roof with 24 hour onsite security to give customers piece of mind while they indulge in all the mall has to offer,” Nxumalo said.
Some highclass retailers and major banks have already been confirmed as tenants. Nxumalo said was that during construction of the mall, local suppliers and businesses will be given an opportunity to act as subcontractors and supply materials.
“The mall will also provide retail space to eight local traders in electronics, clothing, cell- phone repairs and food takeaway outlet businesses.”
In addition to these opportunities, Nxumalo said there is a project steering committee formed to ensure they prioritise local businesses to supply goods and services required by tenants in the mall and the opportunity to tender for the upkeep and maintenance of the centre.
He said a cleansing ceremony was held in March to give closure to the families who lost loved ones in the 2013 mall collapse.
Nkululeko Mkhize, the municipality’s deputy head for economic development projects, said to ensure full compliance, the city was working closely with the new developers in terms of plan approvals as well as occupational health and safety.
“This will prevent any inaccuracies and ensure employees are safe and that the developers deliver a quality standard structure to the community.”