NDLAMBE mayor Phindile Faxi said he was not fazed when the municipality received negative publicity because the municipality was transparent.
Faxi was responding to questions and comments at the mayoral imbizo for Ward 10 residents last week.
Resident Rob Crothall said people were concerned about matters of procurement and the annual audit based on recent headlines.
“I saw a recent headline that was negative for the municipality and I didn’t cringe,” Faxi replied. “We are transparent.”
He said the municipality was “one notch away” from an unqualified audit, and were working towards that goal, including having a working performance management system.
“The counter-argument is that you may chase an unqualified audit and service delivery suffers. I say, let’s do a balancing act, do service delivery and get an unqualified audit.”
He said the Municipal Systems Act compelled municipalities to invite residents to hear about the municipality’s five year plan and what residents would want to see in a five year plan.
He said there were different interests that had to be put together.
“One of the reasons we come together is for social cohesion, the races coming together. It obviously won’t happen overnight,” Faxi said.
“The people on the other side of the hill [Nemato] want houses; they want to be closer to where they work,” he said. “Would you want them close to you in their RDP houses and devalue your property? Obviously not. We have to come together for a solution.”
He said various options were being considered, such as using land along the R72 on the way to East London, on the opposite side of town, or near 43 Air School.
This tied into a matter raised by the chairman of Sunshine Coast Tourism, Rick Pryce, who made an appeal that has been repeated over the past ten years – that 43 Air School needs a tarred runway which would have significant tourism value for the area.
Faxi agreed. He said he had met with the CEO of 43 Air School, Attie Niemann, who had “an interesting proposal” about building houses for the “missing middle” such as police officers, nurses and teachers which would then be sold to fund the cost of the runway.
Infrastructural development director Noluthando Vithi went through a list of projects that had recently been completed, or were currently in progress, or were on a wish list.
Among the roads recently upgraded were Prince’s Avenue and Beach Road, and there are plans to pave Vroom Road and Keey Street, upgrade and resurface West Beach Drive, resurface Dove Lane, Sports Road, Halstead Road, Park Lane and Bathurst Street from the BP garage to High Street, Saltvlei Road, a portion of Smith Street and Barker Street.
The municipality also wants to establish a proper pavement up Wesley Hill from the traffic lights to Stenden and install drainage systems from Van der Riet to Campbell, Masonic and Biscay roads, and in Forest Downs and South Downs.
On the wish list is providing waterborne sewerage to the 60% of households in Ward 10 that still rely on septic tanks and conservancy tanks.
Vithi admitted this project was lagging behind as there is no capital budget and the municipality only had an operating and maintenance budget.
“We’ve applied a number of times for MIG [municipal infrastructure grant]. But they don’t fund urban areas, only townships. We’ve also applied to DWS [department of water and sanitation] for R300-million to sewer the whole town,” she said.
On that topic, Richard Legg made an appeal on behalf of the Port Alfred Country Club Estate. He said the estate had been prejudiced when an old deal between the municipality and Menscott developers had “gone south”, as they did not get the waterborne sewerage that was promised.
He asked if the estate could be refunded the costs of honeysucker pumpouts of septic tanks for the past 10 years and not be charged for future pumpouts.
Faxi said this was being looked into.
Dave Hawkins asked Faxi if the Albany Vintage and Classic Motor Club Museum could use the old market building in Pascoe Crescent and renovate it, further to a letter he had sent the mayor.
Faxi said he was very amenable to the proposal. “The East Bank has been poorer in activity than the West Bank. When you drive past that side [old market building] it’s neglected, an eyesore with run-down buildings. If it was fixed up it would be an attraction to town,” he said.
He added that the outcome of a recent court case in which the sale of the land, erf 361, and accompanying development proposal was overturned, might favour the use of the property for the way in which Hawkins proposed.