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The economically depressed Vaal River district is facing catastrophe as sewage from the Emfuleni water waste works continues to spill into the river, with the area’s core agricultural and tourism industries facing imminent ruin. GDP growth in Emfuleni — the biggest local municipality on the north shore of the Vaal River — has trended downwards for at least a decade, at times falling as low as -0.5%, according to a local economic development strategy document published by the municipality. Unemployment in the major township, Sebokeng, is at 54% and up to 35% for the whole area, a North-West University study has shown. The unemployment rate is more than five percentage points higher than the national average. "It is a Catch-22 situation," Golden Triangle Chamber of Commerce CEO Klippies Kritzinger said. "A big problem is non-payment of utility charges, because of the high unemployment rate. It means big projects such as the R11bn River City development cannot be financed and this has ...

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