The Greater Letaba River originates in the Northern Drakensberg Mountains and cascades downwards in a north eastern direction across Limpopo Province.
The Greater Letaba River Mile (GLRM) is a catchment area located in the Greater Tzaneen Local Municipality (GTLM) of the province. It is comprised of a mile long, meandering stretch of land adjacent to the Letaba River approximately 170 hectares in size. In Tzaneen it is fed by the Tzaneen Dam from which it winds through the outer edge of the Central Business District (CBD) then continues eastwards across to the Kruger National Park (KNP) to join the Olifants River just upstream of the Mozambique border.
The GTLM Local Economic Development (LED) Strategy identified the GLRM as a development opportunity due to its tropical scenery and natural beauty. The LED strategy identified that a number of socio-economic objectives could be met through the strategic development of commercial activity along the mile, in particular activities relating to tourism.
The Greater Tzaneen Economic Development Agency is acting as an agent for the GTLM. It aims to fast track the delivery of projects that can potentially generate economic growth, employment and alleviate poverty.
Current development along the GLRM is characterised by two distinctly different nodes which neighbour the mile at opposite ends.
The upper mile area is closest to the Tzaneen Dam.Upmarket residential estates compliment this attractive area. Along the western bank of the Letaba River, the Tzaneen Showgrounds play host to a number of popular local festivals and events with the river providing a scenic backdrop. Closer to the river bank, a casual set up of picnic facilities, paintball grounds and a 4x4 club allow visitors to maximise their enjoyment of the natural surroundings.
The lower end of the mile winds through the CBD of Tzaneen. Its eastern bank is mostly dense and lush with tropical bush. Behind this tropical forest, is industrial development consisting mostly of timber and sewerage works. The view from the Eastern bank is the back of the Tzaneng Mall and most of the CBD. The frame is dominated by a view of the mechanics' market, the bus depot, the taxi rank and the hawkers market. This is an area of high activity, dense pollution and it is also home to a few informal settlers, all of which unfortunately promotes an air of general squalor.
Letaba River that passes through Tzaneen town has the potential to be developed into a major tourism attraction. A platform for business, office park and property development on the eastern side of the Letaba River has potential to alleviate some of the space limitations that are currently being experienced in the CBD. This is supported by the Greater Tzaneen Municipality Spatial Development Framework.