Multi-million-rand tourism facility in Limpopo remains incomplete

A multi-million-rand community tourism project has collapsed at Oaks Village between Tzaneen and Hoedspruit in Limpopo. The incomplete project has cost the government about R90 million. It was started in 2004 and allegedly abandoned three years later.

Community members say their hopes of job and business opportunities have diminished. Authorities have however promised that the facility will be completed.

The Sepeke Community Tourism Project at Oaks Village in the Ga-Sekororo area situated along the Olifants River, was intended to boost tourism. About 20 villages were set to benefit.

Upon completion, it was supposed to have 12 chalets, a cultural village, an information center and a restaurant. The project was funded by the Department of Tourism.

“The delay of this project is affecting us deeply as entrepreneurs who want to venture into tourism, most of these attraction sites are found in the villages, there are a lot of attractions, a lot of waterfalls, as well as hiking trails. We want this project to operate so that we can do business together with them,” says concerned community member, Tebalelo Mametja.

“The impact for us as youth is that the chances of employment diminish when projects are turned into white elephants, our preference as the youth is that the project must be completed and must be operational so that we can find opportunities,” adds another community member, Mogase Lewele.

DA councillor in the Maruleng Municipality, Portia Moropane, has expressed concerns about what she refers to as a lack of transparency and accountability on the project.

“19 years later this 22.2-hectare project like any other state-owned enterprise has not benefited the community of The Oaks and surrounding areas as there have never been any transparency and accountability. Millions of rands were spent however the project remains un-operational,” says Moropane

In response, the Mayor of the Maruleng Municipality, Tsheko Musolwa, says the project will be completed. Musolwa says the provincial Treasury Department has allocated an additional budget of R23 million in this financial year for the completion of the project.

“For the project that has been stalled for many years, we felt it will be not in the interest of the community for it
to be abandoned hence we spoke to tourism to bring about the end or completion of the project, and I’m happy they have injected an amount of R23 million. Now in this phase after we engaged with them,” says Musolwa.

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