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About Witbank

Witbank

 

(/ˈvɪtbəŋk/; Afrikaans for White Ridge), also known as eMalahleni (meaning "place of coal") is a city situated on the Highveld of Mpumalanga, South Africa, within the eMalahleni Local Municipality.. The name Witbank is Afrikaans for White Ridge and is named after a white sandstone outcrop where wagon transport drivers rested. The city is known for the coal-mining in the surrounding region.

 

 

Witbank
eMalahleni
Aerial view over the suburbs
Aerial view over the suburbs
Witbank is located in South Africa
WitbankWitbank
 Witbank shown within South Africa

Coordinates: 25.876579°S 29.200974°E

 

 

History

 

Witbank was established in 1890 and early attempts to exploit the coal deposits failed until the railway from Pretoria reached the area in 1894. It was proclaimed a town in 1903 and became a municipality in 1914. Despite attempts by governing bodies to establish the use of the name, eMalahleni, for the city as well as for the district, locals still tend to call the city by its original name. Similarly to the anglicised pronunciation of JohannesburgEnglish-speaking residents pronounce the name as “wit•bank” and not as “vit•bunk” as in the original Afrikaans pronunciation, nor as “vit•bank” as English-speaking visitors are prone to say.

There are many stories about the city and its origination but the top story would be the arrival of Winston Churchill at the nearby Transvaaland Delagoa Bay Colliery during his escape from Boer imprisonment in Pretoria, on his way to Delagoa Bay (later Lourenço Marques, and then Maputo, in Mozambique). Some local residents, loyal to the Crown, assisted him in hiding and making the final leg of his escape, thus gaining Witbank the consequent credit once the details of these events could be made known. The town has grown since then from a farming community into a business destination where companies such asAnglo AmericanBHP BillitonEvrazEskomExxaro, Joy, Komatsu, the Renova GroupSAB MillerSAMANCORShanduka BeveragesXstrata and Zenith Inc amongst many others have found substantial returns on their investments..

 

 

 

 

Transport

 

Witbank railway station

 

Witbank is located along the railway line linking Pretoria to Maputo and for many years served as the transport gateway to the Mozambiquean port. In recent years, this line has been under frequent threat of collapse due to underground coal fires in disused mines in the area.

Two national highways, the N4 from Pretoria and the N12 from Johannesburg, converge at Witbank and then continue to Komatipoort, on the border of Mozambique. Together, these routes form the Maputo Corridor, a strategically important alternative to the South African ports of Richards Bay and Durban on the Indian Ocean shores of the country..

 

 

 

 

Economy

 

Witbank is in a coal mining area with more than 22 collieries in the municipal radius. There are a number of power stations(such as the Duvha Power Station), as well as a steel mill (Evraz Highveld Steel and Vanadium Limited) nearby which all require coal. The farm land surrounding Witbank is fast being bought by investors, coal mining companies and real estate developers to accommodate the rapid growth of the city which is good for local businesses and residents.

Likewise, the sustained growth of the commercial areas and suburbs has presented significant challenges to the municipal government. Potable water supplies, sewage treatment, electricity distribution, refuse collection and road maintenance are particularly affected, arousing sustained ire amongst the local residents. Relatively high summer rainfall since 2008 has caused significant damage to municipal roads, creating large numbers of potholes and leaving large amounts of debris on the road surfaces..

 

 

 

Tourism

 

As Witbank is en route to travellers from the Gauteng province to the Kruger National Park, attempts have been made to capture some of the potential tourist spend. Apart from a few hotels, there are many guest houses. These vary from the utilitarian to the luxurious, and also cater for many of the business travellers visiting Witbank as well as those travelling to Nelspruit, Swaziland and Mozambique. A casino complex is accessible within a few hundred meters from the N4 highway, providing two hotels, cinemas, ten-pin bowling and restaurants as well as the traditional gambling facilities. The Highveld Mall is built immediately next to the casino and is a retail hub for locals as well as for many residents of towns in the vicinity..

 

Witbank dam

 

The Witbank dam is reputed to be the largest municipal dam in South Africa. Once a thriving resort for camping, water-sports and animal viewing, the area has come under increasing criticism due to degradation of the facilities..



 

Sport

 

Witbank is the home town of the Mpumalanga Black Aces football team and used to be the home town of the Pumas provincial rugby union who has since moved to Nelspruit. Also home of the Witbank hockey club . It is also the home town of Miss World of 1974Anneline Kriel, who was crowned with this title at the age of 19. The Witbank Skydiving Club is one of the better-known clubs catering for this form of recreation and has been in existence for 30 years. Hiking trails and bushveld walks are offered by various enterprises in the surrounding area. Witbank is the home town of the paintball team Ghost Hunters, which are regarded as the country's top military simulation paintball team.

 




SOURCE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Witbank

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