The airport development node will significantly boost the economy of Mangaung Metro Municipality in Free State Province.

Located along the N8 road towards the Mangaung towns of Botshabelo and Thaba Nchu, the aerotropolis will boast services ranging from a shopping mall, educational and civic sites and an urban square to an international conference centre, hotels, and mixed housing.

When executive mayor Thabo Manyoni took office in 2011, he ensured that the node forms part of the spatial development framework of Mangaung to reposition the city economically and financially.

Phase 1

In the first phase, 700 hectares (the size of the current central business district) of the 2000 hectares set aside for the node will be developed. During the bulk services delivery alone, 11 000 jobs will be created.

Once developed, Phase 1 will have an investment value of approximately R100-billion.

The first phase will include developments such as a 50 hectare urban square, the international conference centre and related amenities such as hotels, business centres and niche shopping facilities.

“We are excited about this project because we believe that Mangaung is central in the footprint of the country and sitting at the crossroads of major movement routes on the national highways as well as rail transport converging in the metro,” said the head of the department for planning at Mangaung Municipality, Kaba Kabagambe.

In the first phase, Mangaung’s first solar farm will also be built with the expectation of powering the new development with clean sun energy.

Besides being an economic hub for residents and visitors, there will be strides to ensure the new town promotes a healthy lifestyle by making it pedestrian friendly.

“The political leadership of this metro is going to be hands on in the planning phase. We want an environment where people can walk and work and an environment that will be able to promote a healthy lifestyle,” said councillor Manyoni.

Through the node, the city seeks to address the five-fold issues of economic growth, job creation, poverty reduction, effective service delivery and social justice.

“The airport node is the largest municipal owned and driven airport city project within the South African Development Community region,” says Kabagambe.

It will be significant in the overall development of Botshabelo and Thaba Nchu with the revenue generated from the project to be used for necessary cross-subsidisation of critical projects in Botshabelo and Thaba Nchu.

In the second phase of the development project, the node will evolve into a dry port that will be a central area where all the modes of transport converge for the development of the area. The idea is the creation of a central location from where goods manufactured/grown in the area can then be distributed or exported.