The Bergrivier municipal area is situated in the jurisdiction area of the West Coast District Municipality. The municipal area is bordered in the west by the Atlantic Ocean, in the east by the Groot Winterhoek mountains with the Berg River defining the southern boundary of the municipality. The Verlorenvlei and the northern section of the Groot Winterhoek mountains define the northern boundary.
The municipal area is approximately 4407.04 km² in size with nine settlements of which three can be classified within the context of Bergrivier, as major towns namely Piketberg, Porterville and Velddrif.
- Piketberg serves as the administrative centre of the Bergrivier Municipality. These three major towns are respectively between 100 and 140 kilometres from Cape Town, with Velddrif situated at the coast and in close proximity to the Saldanha Bay urban configuration.
Velddrif, Laaiplek and Dwarskersbos are described as “coastal towns” — with unique development opportunities and an economic landscape that recently changed from a centre for services and processing of fishing and agricultural products to a more service-based tourism town
Porterville and Piketberg as “central places” — established towns with long histories, well connected with road (and rail) links, a solid base in the agricultural sector and distinct additional functions, and Eendekuil, Aurora and Redelinghuys as “isolated villages” — the typical “stagnant” or “shrinking” places.
Bergrivier has a large rural population with 39 per cent of all households living in rural areas. This is a higher proportion of rural households than that of the district.
Organisation structure Bergrivier LM
The municipal area is generally described as a low-growth area within the Western Cape, which over the past two decades has experienced real annual growth in excess of the national average. This subdued growth can be seen as a result of four key factors:
- Agriculture, the dominant sector, has been dampened by droughts, lower profitability and rationalization of production techniques
- Fishing has also been dampened due to lower catches and tighter controls
- Being located to the north-west of Cape Town, the area does not fall within the inmigration corridor from the Eastern Cape, and
- The N 7 transport corridor from Cape Town to Namaqualand and further north (to Namibia and Angola) is only tangential to the municipal area (with Piketberg too close to Cape Town to function as a significant stop for these trucks).
In 2005 the Bergrivier local municipality had the smallest economic growth, viz. 2.5 per cent in the West Coast District. During the same period the West Coast district registered growth of 3.57 per cent.
In 2001 the local economy was driven by growth in the agriculture, forestry and fishing sectors. Longer term trends (1995 – 2005) show that these sectors will remain the main economic drivers, increasing their share from 31.2% in 1995 to 34.4% in 2005. Over this period the wholesale and trade sector was the second largest sector with its share increasing from 11 per cent in 1995 to 14 per cent in 2005. The manufacturing was the only sector that showed a decline from its 15.3% in 1995 to 12.9% in 2005.
Contribution to the District economy
In 2007 the West Coast district had a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of R6.8 billion of which the Bergrivier municipal area contributed R746 933 million representing 11 per cent. This was geographically the smallest contribution to the District’s GDP.
Employment per sector
The agriculture sector is the biggest creator of jobs with a 55 per cent contribution to employment in the Bergrivier municipal area. Other prominent sectors are manufacturing, trade and government services. Velddrif, Porterville and Piketberg are classified as growth towns and the foreseeable development in these towns can lead to increased employment opportunities.
The seasonal nature of employment in the agriculture and fishing sector has both social and economic implications for workers owing to fluctuating income. Furthermore, does the weakening global economic situation and changing environmental conditions (longterm structural changes) impact on the viability of the agriculture and fishing industries. This bleak economic situation is compounded by the low skills levels resulting in lay-offs in especially the construction and fishing industries. Hence, the desperate need for economic initiatives and social support.
Source: Bergrivier IDP Review 2011/2012