Buffalo City Metro says it’s all systems go as they prepare to roll out the red carpet for more than 400 high-powered foreign guests in the next two weeks.
They are delegates from the five Brics countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – an association of five major emerging national economies.
South Africa joined the group in 2010 and will this year be hosting the annual Brics summit in Johannesburg next month.
However, prior to the international summit, BCM and the ministry of cooperative governance and traditional affairs will host a number of sectoral meetings in the city.
BCM’s infrastructure portfolio head Ncedo Kumbaca, who addressed media and a few delegates at the Regent Hotel on Friday, said the city was hard at work with last-minute touch-ups in preparation for the three-day meeting.
The meeting will be taking place from June 28 to July 1.
“We are here to merely tick all the boxes as we look forward to hosting the Brics countries which will be coming to our city.
“We want to maximise on the visit, build relations and also attract investors from the many delegates coming from the other four countries,” said Kumbaca.
He added: “We are expecting the event to bring with it various socio-economic spin offs including a boost in the local formal and informal tourism sector as well as investment opportunities.
“This is the first time our city will host an event of this magnitude and the second time a South African city will be hosting it.
“We are expecting up to 400 international and national delegates including a contingent of delegates from government and businesses around the Eastern Cape.”
Kumbaca said the expected delegations would comprise of presidents, ministers and several officials from the different countries.
On June 28 and 29 the city will lead forums on Brics friendship cities, local government cooperation, and urbanisation.
On June 30 and July 1 technical engagements between Brics task force delegates on disaster management are scheduled.
All the proceedings will take place at the East London ICC on the beachfront. ICC general manager Francois Van Zyl said they were busy preparing for the occasion.
“We were informed in March that East London would be the host city and from thereon, we have been making tangible enhancements, assessing current service delivery and standards, and pushing the boundary of providing for an exceptional experience, and we are ready to take on this most prestigious and important event.”
Van Zyl said they have had numerous meetings with various stakeholders within BCM to ensure that every issue and eventuality is covered, with health, safety and general security being an absolute priority.
On Friday Kumbaca led a delegation which visited some of the places where last minute touch-ups were under way.
“Part of our preparations include ensuring that the city’s maintenance and cleanliness programmes continue.
“The metro has committed about 100 EPWP workers while Cogta has committed 1000 contingent paid workers to assist with the scope of work which needs to be carried out throughout this period.
“We have also intensified our ongoing service delivery maintenance operations which include removing of refuse, street sweeping, grass cutting, bush clearing, fixing potholes and removal of illegal posters,” he said.
BCM spokesman Samkelo Ngwenya said they had also scheduled tours around Mdantsane, Ginsberg and East London for the expected delegates.
“Locals will have the opportunity to showcase their arts and crafts and sell to international guests. Locals have also been offered an opportunity to be among the exhibition stalls that will be at the ICC,” he said, adding they would also visit organised businesses.