PORT Alfred Residents and Ratepayers Association (Parra) held their annual general meeting last week at the Port Alfred Civic Centre, with several Ward 10 residents as well as mayor Phindile Faxi speaking on local development, service delivery challenges, and addressing some of the key issues that affect ratepayers and economic growth.
Faxi spoke on national issues that affect the local economy, the socio-political overview of Ndlambe and administration issues within the municipality.
“South Africa today is experiencing a serious economic downturn – this has serious implications for Ndlambe. As we are in junk status, investors are not forthcoming. We are not in a position to raise loans which leads to more unemployment and unrest,” said Faxi.
“It does affect us in Ndlambe – the only way we to survive is to work together,” he said.
Faxi went on to say that since August 3 last year, Ndlambe had been engulfed by a wave of service delivery protests, more specifically housing delivery.
“Is government building houses? Not soon. Where does that leave us? With ongoing protests. What do the leaders do? Alexandria, Kenton, New Rest have been taking turns but we have been making strides to put it to an end,” Faxi said.
He said the municipality realised how road-blocking protests negatively affect the local economy and have hindered business operations as well as tourism.
He said he had engaged the Eastern Cape MEC of human settlement and the minister of human settlements, and recently hosted the Eastern Cape premier who they had asked to intervene in the matter.
Faxi also described housing as a moving target as issues arise, such as EIA reports which condemn certain areas, the rectification of poorly built houses and bulk water supply challenges. He added that the premier proposed a plan to categorise people who would receive houses – people with disabilities first, followed by the elderly, child-headed households, destitute people and then military veterans.
He said 780 houses will start being built next year. “The demand however is much more at around 3 000. The little we are building is not enough,” he said.
“It needs all of us to work together, we need to find common solutions. I’m inviting all of us here to find common ground.”
Faxi gave an overview of the bulk water supply challenges and added that utilising the Sandile Dam and desalination are both being looked at. Each of these avenues has positives and negatives, he said.
Regarding paving towpaths in town, ownership of the old Spur building, sanitation and stray cattle, Faxi said the municipality acknowledged the complaints and are addressing the issues.
Parra chairman Dawie van Wyk, in his chairman’s report, raised the condition of the roads and gave positive feedback regarding to the progress in paving.
Regarding the budget, Van Wyk said the Ndlambe Ratepayers Forum (NRF) and Parra had numerous meetings with the municipality during the budget process which started with proposed rates increases of 17%.
“This was finally brought down to 11% (with a 2% reduction in the discount) resulting in an effective increase of 13%. This is still too high as many pensioners only get inflation related increases on their fixed pension and Ndlambe need to keep their future rates increase below the inflation rate,” Van Wyk said.
Duplication was also identified in the overtime and casuals’ budget, resulting in R3.5-million savings which was allocated to the capital budget.
On the town’s appearance, Van Wyk said that numerous visitors have commented on how clean Port Alfred is looking, “but this is not the case in Nemato”.
On the removal of the boardwalk at the Duck Pond, he said: “Although this was a very attractive feature it was in a poor state and dangerous and tenders to replace it were too expensive.”
He also mentioned that despite receiving non-compliance letters, the owner of the Ferryman’s Hotel had “made no attempt whatsoever to upgrade this eyesore”.
Van Wyk said non-compliance letters regarding sewage, rubbish and litter had been sent to several businesses including Ocean Basket and Pick n Pay.
“Most of the sewerage problems either occur during high spring tides when there is backwash due to the low-lying town area or businesses that do not clean their fat traps. This has resulted in a build-up of debris in the pipes, narrowing the diameter that also results in sewerage spills. The grant applied for to put the 60% of Ward 10 that is not on waterborne sewerage onto waterborne sewerage is still eagerly awaited,” he said.
Parra has sponsored a new signboard for the SCPA as well as donated R5 000 to the Gift of the Givers Knynsa fire victims’ fund.
On other compliance issues, Van Wyk said: “The illegal and unregistered Dunes B&B was sent a final non-compliance letter but the owner just ignores them and carries on trading. There is also another illegal unregistered B&B in Falcon Street.”
Van Wyk also spoke about the state of the municipal dump and burning of refuse. Parra wants to know what the environmental levy all ratepayers pay is being used for. “Certainly not on the refuse dump,” he said.
Regarding the ongoing fight against a cell tower being erected at the Dias NG Kerk, Van Wyk said a number of flaws had been identified in the applications for the erection of these cell masts.
“Ndlambe Municipality also do not have a functional planning tribunal as stipulated in the Spatial Planning Land Use Management Act. Technically all applications for rezoning and departures granted since 2013 are illegal,” he said.
See this week’s TotT for full story.