By Kouga Executive Mayor Horatio Hendricks
6 March 2020
- Mayoral Committee Members and Councillors
- Municipal Manager, Directors and Officials
- Members of the Provincial Legislature and party-political representatives
- Representatives from sector departments and parastatals
- Our local business community and other stakeholder groups
- Members of the media
- Family and friends
- Distinguished guests,
Good morning. Molweni. Goeie more.
Ninety years ago a Hungarian writer with the penname “Watty Piper” wrote a children’s book that went on to become one of the most-loved fairytales of our time.
The book was called “The Little Engine That Could”.
It tells the tale of a little blue engine that is asked to pull a long train over a high mountain. The red engine that was pulling the train had broken down and the big yellow engine that was first asked to take over wasn’t up to the task.
And so it was left to the little blue engine to get the heavy load to its destination.
It seemed like an impossible task, but the little blue engine was determined to succeed and not afraid to work hard – and got the train over the mountain.
A generation ago a free and fair South Africa also seemed like a pipedream, yet in 1990 the father of our nation, Nelson Holihlahla Mandela, walked out of the Victor Verster prison a free man and set the wheels in motion for our country’s first democratic election in 1994.
Today, 30 years later, we are still a country of miracles and I firmly believe that if we have the will and the willingness to work hard, we too have the power to make the seemingly impossible possible.
My belief is underscored by what I have seen happening in Kouga since this Council took control in August 2016. In just 40 months we have turned Kouga around and are on course to become one of the best-run municipalities in South Africa.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I wish to thank all of you for joining me today as we reflect on the state of our municipality.
I would like to start off by acknowledging one of the municipality’s greatest miracle-makers: our Fleet section, headed by supervisor Nico Gouws.
In 2016 only 4% of Kouga’s fleet was in good working order. That meant that even if staff wanted to work, they couldn’t because they couldn’t get where they needed to go to fulfil the municipality’s constitutional mandate.
Three and a half years later at least 90% of the municipality’s vehicles are on the road every day thanks to the incredible turn-around of our Fleet section.
Among the miracles they have accomplished, is the repair and refurbishment of old vehicles we thought would have to be written off.
The old Ford tractor you see on the screen is one of my favourite recent examples and a perfect illustration of how Kouga Municipality has been making the impossible possible – by doing even the smallest things in a great way.
The political and administrative leadership of the municipality will be participating in a strategic workshop next week to map out the road ahead.
Our focus will be on six narratives which, we believe, are critical for Kouga to keep moving forward. These narratives are:
- Keep Kouga Serviced
- Keep Kouga Clean
- Keep Kouga Green
- Keep Kouga Safe
- Keep Kouga Smart, and
- Keep Kouga Growing
KEEP KOUGA SERVICED
One of the biggest obstacles to development in past years has been the lack of bulk sewer infrastructure.
Over the past six months Kouga has dealt that obstacle a blow by opening not one, but two, state-of-the-art waste water treatment works to unlock development in Humansdorp and St Francis.
Built at a cost of R85,6 million, the Kruisfontein Waste Water Treatment Works is considered one of the most advanced sewer plants in South Africa, if not the world.
The building of the plant also created precious job opportunities, with 34 000 hours of local labour being clocked. Four unemployed residents were furthermore trained to operate the works and are now employed full time.
The upgraded Sea Vista Waste Water Treatment Works at St Francis Bay was officially opened last week.
The R31-million upgrade has more than doubled the plant’s capacity, paving the way for the unlocking of the long-awaited Sea Vista 2 000 RDP housing project.
Local labour was also used extensively, clocking in at 44 639 hours. In addition, 10% of the contract value was sub-contracted to Exempted Micro Enterprises (EMEs).
The upgrade of the KwaNomzamo and Patensie Waste Water Treatment Works is currently under way and will further enable development in these towns.
Twenty container ablution facilities were also recently delivered to Kouga and are key to our efforts to eradicate the bucket system in our region once and for all.
The first containers have been earmarked for Thornhill and Stofwolk in Hankey while more is set to be ordered for other areas where households still depend on this inhumane system.
The R500-million backlog in road maintenance is also being dealt with, albeit slower than we would like.
Last year I promised this house that we would be looking at innovative ways to address this serious challenge.
We made good on that promise in December 2019 when Kouga officially opened Africa’s first eco-friendly road, incorporating waste plastic, in Jeffreys Bay.
A 300m strip of Woltemade Street was retarred using a plastic-infused asphalt mix, which not only makes for more durable roads but also helps combat plastic pollution and climate change.
The same revolutionary approach to building roads will also be used for the construction of a new access road at Crossways near Thornhill, a sign that the private sector is ready to buy into this concept, which augurs well for the future.
The interest from government stakeholders and the media has been overwhelming, boosting our chances of opening a plant in Kouga to recycle plastic and manufacture the pellets that are used to replace a portion of the bitumen in the tar mix.
2019 was also the year Kouga declared war on potholes.
Thirty-two (32) permanent staff were sent for advanced road repair training while 70 extra temporary workers were employed to speed up repairs. New machinery, including two asphalt cutters, were also bought to improve the quality of repairs.
A total of 10 801 potholes were fixed over the last six months of 2019 – that’s more than 1 800 per month.
Roads and parking areas have also been resealed across the region. During the previous financial year 142 000m² of roads was slurried and 17 600m² was resurfaced with hot asphalt.
To show how serious we are about fixing roads we have more than doubled the budget that will be spent on upgrading roads this financial year – from R12-million to R25-million.
We will be resealing a further 89 000m² with hot asphalt in the current financial year. Just a few hundred metres from here, the access road to Pellsrus is being resealed as I speak.
A portion of this allocation will go towards surfacing two gravel roads. From 1 July we plan on expanding this programme and will be paving roads in impoverished areas as well.
Kouga has been putting its R151-million drought disaster grant to good use in order to achieve water security for all communities.
The drought, aggravated by climate change, remains a grave concern.
The level of the Kouga Dam, which supplies Hankey and Patensie, has dropped to below 18%.
The level of the Impofu dam – the biggest dam serving Jeffreys Bay, Humansdorp and St Francis Bay – stood at only 16,66% on Monday (2 March) and the smaller Churchill Dam at 82,05%.
The municipality has been developing new boreholes at Jeffreys Bay, Humansdorp, Patensie and Hankey. Equipping and connecting the boreholes to the existing supply is under way, as is the upgrade of the water treatment works to cater for these additional sources.
At Hankey bulk supply lines from the Gamtoos Canal extraction point to the Hankey Water Treatment Works and Centerton reservoirs have been completed while a large portion of the town’s internal water reticulation network has been replaced to minimise leaks.
The installation of a gravity supply feed from boreholes in Soetkloof to the Hankey works is also progressing well, with completion set for this month. Once the Eskom electrical supply is in place, the boreholes will be equipped.
At Patensie the bulk supply line from the water treatment works to Ramaposa Village is nearing completion. Old, leaky pipes are also being replaced as part of this project.
Two boreholes are further set to be developed at Patensie and a rising main installed to the water treatment works.
The Jeffreys Bay Water Treatment Works is currently being upgraded to cater for extra borehole water. A new water tower has already been constructed, four new borehole pumps have been installed and new filters fitted.
The upgrade of the Kruisfontein Water Treatment Works is under way and two new storage tanks, with a combined capacity of more than 400 000 litres, were recently installed in the area to hold water from newly-developed sources.
Groundwater development at Rebelsrus and Mostertshoek to augment the water supply to St Francis is also in progress.
To combat pipe breakages Pressure Release Valves have been installed at Aston Bay, Pellsrus and Oceanview in Jeffreys Bay. These PRVs will help to reduce water losses and ensure a more stable supply.
Ongoing interventions to improve Water Conservation and Demand Management include leak repairs, with a recent highlight being the installation of a new pipe bridge at Impala Street in Jeffreys Bay.
Securing our water facilities has further been prioritised. Fencing and gates have been installed at the Jeffreys Bay and Hankey reservoirs, as well as at the Loerie pump station.
In addition to drought mitigation efforts, we are especially proud of the work that was done at Mountain View, an informal settlement at Hankey, last year. A supply line was installed to the area and four communal taps put in place, giving the community easy access to water for the first time ever.
You do these things when taking care of people is not your job but your calling.
Kouga has also been powering up communities. The electrification of the Kruisfontein 391 housing project was completed last year and power is set to be installed to a further 200 plots at Donkerhoek and Arcadia in Humansdorp this year.
The electricity networks at both Humansdorp and St Francis Bay are further being upgraded, with just more than R10-million having been budgeted for this purpose.
In an effort to save power the municipality has also started replacing standard streetlights with energy-efficient LED lights. More than 1 000 LED streetlights were recently delivered to Kouga and are now being installed.
The first 24 solar public lights have also been procured, 12 of which are equipped with security cameras.
The first three have been installed along the Aston Bay road while the remainder will be used at the container ablution facilities in order to safeguard users.
Public amenities such as halls, sportsfields and cemeteries play a central role when it comes to building social cohesion. They are venues where people come together to celebrate birthdays and weddings, to mourn the passing of loved ones or to watch South Africa’s future sport stars in action.
Sadly, these facilities were for long neglected and are in dire need of attention. To this end the municipality has embarked on a programme to restore them to their original glory.
The Newton Hall, where we are gathered today, was recently revamped. Six other halls have also been improved – the KwaNomzamo and Kruisfontein halls in Humansdorp, the Pellsrus hall in Jeffreys Bay, Katrina Felix in Thornhill, Dan Sandi in Patensie and Vusumzi Landu in Hankey.
Sportsfields and clubhouses have also received attention, with work ranging from the installation of crowd control fences and flood lights to the upgrade of ablution facilities at Kruisfontein, Phillipsville in Hankey, Tokyo Sexwale in Jeffreys Bay and Patensie.
All cemeteries were given a thorough clean-up this past year while the ablution facilities at both C-Place Cemetery in Jeffreys Bay and the Loerie Cemetery were revamped. The guard house at Loerie was also upgraded.
An institution can only achieve service excellence when all its staff are on board. As Richard Branson said: “If you look after your staff, they will look after your customers. It’s that simple.”
In order to boost staff morale various initiatives were launched last year, including an Employee Wellness Programme. This proactive intervention gives municipal employees access to various professionals to help them with challenges they encounter in their personal lives, which could also jeopardise their work performance.
Staff inductions have been held to help new employees integrate into the workplace effectively while regular Human Resources roadshows take place to ensure staff understand their rights and responsibilities, as encapsulated in national and municipal policy documents.
The significant decrease in sick leave over the last six months of 2019 reflects the success of these interventions. The number of sick days taken in July 2019 was 214. This decreased to 127 days on average for the following five months, with the lowest number (91) recorded for December.
The municipality has also stepped up its training programmes for employees.
During the last six months of 2019 a total of 370 employees benefited from training, ranging from municipal finance management and supervisory skills to road construction.
Eleven unemployed youth have also joined nine Kouga staffers for a Community House Building Learnership, awarded by LGSETA for a 12-month period. Artisan electrical and plumbing training of 40 unemployed youth is also ongoing.
KEEP KOUGA CLEAN
The Keep Kouga Clean campaign has been growing from strength to strength.
To date a total of 10 000 wheelie bins have been distributed at Hankey, Patensie, Loerie, Thornhill and Humansdorp. The idea is for the bins to replace black bags, which will make it easier for residents to keep their immediate surroundings clean.
Municipal work crews, in conjunction with the Community Works Programme, regularly clear Illegal dumping spots while our grass-cutters and litter-pickers have been doing a sterling job in keeping verges, sidewalks and our town areas tidy.
Special mention must be made of our beach teams who, once again, outdid themselves during the festive season and were complimented by holiday-makers and residents alike.
I would also like to thank the many organisations, businesses and individuals who – of their own accord – have been helping us to keep Kouga clean. These stakeholders include the community organisation Dorp van Drome, farmers from the Gamtoos Valley and business concerns such as Woodlands Dairy, the Humansdorp Co-op, Spar and Build-it.
KEEP KOUGA GREEN
Closely linked to these efforts is our Keep Kouga Green campaign.
The launch of the campaign follows on Kouga’s achievement in the 2019 East Cape Greenest Municipality awards. We entered the competition for the first time last year and placed a commendable second.
The award recognized several initiatives introduced by the municipality, aimed at promoting sustainable development to the benefit of all communities and the planet as a whole.
These include proactive steps to reduce the amount of paper used by the municipality, tree-planting drives, the appointment of an official recycler and Dolphin Beach’s ongoing success in the international Blue Flag eco programme.
Other current projects include the monitoring and management of the Seekoei Estuary at Jeffreys Bay, strengthening the St Francis spit to prevent the sea from breaking through to the canals, and the removal and rehabilitation of encroaching dunes at Oyster Bay.
The official launch of the Keep Kouga Green campaign recently took place at Humansdorp. The purpose of the campaign is to raise awareness of climate change and the role each one of us can play to help slow this global challenge down and minimise the harmful impact on communities.
Involving schools is key and a Green School Competition and Ambassador Programme will form an integral part of the campaign.
We were honoured to have our first 60 “green ambassadors” – 15 pupils each from Graslaagte, Mzingisi, St Patrick’s and Sea Vista primary schools – join us for the launch.
We have also been donating trees to schools for them to “green” their premises and will roll-out a school food garden programme in the new financial year.
Kouga has furthermore been building on its climate change partnership with the German municipality Ilsfeld and had the privilege of being chosen to host an international climate change workshop – a first for the region – in October last year.
More than 100 delegates from nine countries, representing three continents – Africa, South America and Europe – attended and it was an invaluable opportunity for participants to share and learn from each other’s experiences.
KEEP KOUGA SAFE
Keeping Kouga safe, be it from disease, fire, accidents or crime has become increasingly important, with the recent spate of violence in Humansdorp emphasising the need for a multi-sectoral approach.
The municipality will, therefore, be hosting the first-ever Kouga Pubilc Safety Summit in April and bring together all stakeholders under one roof to find solutions to this scourge.
The establishment of Community Safety Forums is also a high priority and will enable the municipality to dedicate funding and capacitate residents to join forces with law enforcement agencies to make neighbourhoods safe again.
Security cameras will also be installed at strategic points as part of this programme.
The municipality’s Community Services directorate contributed significantly to keeping Kouga safe this past year.
Together with the state veterinarian and SPCA, the Environmental Health section prevented a potential outbreak of rabies – a disease deadly to both animals and humans – in Humansdorp last year.
The Fire and Disaster Management section attended to 527 fires and accidents during 2019. They also intensified efforts to reduce fire risks in those areas prone to destructive blazes.
Stakeholder involvement has been crucial in this regard and a Fire Risk Reduction Committee has been established at St Francis, deemed a particularly high risk area, to encourage community participation.
Voluntary bush-clearing drives were held, and I would like to applaud everyone who freely gave of their time to make a difference.
A service provider was also appointed in November to clear plots that pose a high fire risk with a specialised brush cutter. Two new fire-fighting vehicles and a 4×4 bakkie, specifically for Disaster Management, were further added to the fleet.
Just yesterday our efforts to decrease the fire risk to our communities received a welcome boost when Santam donated R1-million to the municipality. This funding will be used specifically for the clearing of alien vegetation. We would like to thank Santam for partnering with us to keep our communities safe.
The municipality’s lifeguard unit also made waves this past festive season. The unit was boosted by the addition of 21 local youngsters, who all survived strenuous training during 2019 and received their internationally-recognised Lifeguard Awards.
We salute these youngsters, and the senior lifeguards who took charge of their training, for the role they played in ensuring that there were no fatalities due to drownings at Kouga beaches this past summer season.
A special word of thanks to the police, security companies, businesses, neighbourhood watches and other organisations who joined hands with us to keep residents and holiday-makers safe during the season. A Joint Coordinating Committee was established and met without fail at 8am every morning over the peak holiday period, even over weekends.
Kouga’s Traffic Department remains committed to keeping road-users safe. Visible traffic policing was improved through the addition of four sedans and three LDVs (bakkies), all bearing the distinct new brand of the department.
A total of 4 596 notices and fines were issued by the Traffic Department during 2019 and 23 arrests were made for drunken driving.
A taxi unit was also established to improve the safety of commuters and regular roadblocks were held to ensure public transport operators comply with the law. Over 100 taxis were impounded for operating without the necessary licences.
Three LDVs were further added to the municipal Law Enforcement fleet and seven extra Law Enforcement Officers appointed to improve this section’s capacity to deal with complaints.
More than 200 animals were impounded during 2019 for posing a threat to road users. A further 1 158 complaints were resolved or fines issued for transgressions ranging from trading illegally to illegal electricity connections.
Various road-safety improvements have further been made, including, the installation of new speed bumps and street name boards.
Pre-planning for the extension of Duine Road in Jeffreys Bay has also started, including, a Traffic Impact Assessment and specialist Environmental studies.
The Duine Road extension will serve as an alternative route between Jeffreys Bay and Aston Bay, which has become a necessity due to increased safety concerns along the Aston Bay road.
Pedestrians, including school children, travelling to and from Ocean View have to cross the busy road, increasing the risk of someone being hit by a vehicle.
The municipality has, in partnership with businesses, put in place additional safety measures along the road such as fencing and pedestrian crossings. An alternative route will, however, also help to lessen the amount of traffic and further lower the risk of accidents.
KEEP KOUGA SMART
A key contributor to the municipality’s recent progress has been our determination to keep Kouga smart.
We have been actively looking for innovative ways to take Kouga forward such as the technology used at the Kruisfontein Waste Water Treatment Works and using plastic to build eco-friendly roads.
Kouga took a big step forward technologically when the Link service delivery app was introduced just more than two years ago.
The app, supported by the Kouga Call Centre, has proven to be an effective link between the municipality and communities.
More than 23 000 incidents were resolved through the Call Centre and Link app from July to December 2019 alone.
In addition, the Call Centre is now fully equipped to handle account balance enquiries and to register ratepayers online.
Ward assistants have further been trained on using the app to improve the resolving of complaints and service requests received from communities.
Technology also offers municipalities the opportunity to cut red tape and streamline operations across departments. To this end the municipality has been rolling out a digitalisation strategy, with the aim of integrating the different systems currently being used by municipal sections.
Technology is also a game-changer when it comes to opening up economic opportunities for our communities and business sector.
The so-called “Fourth Industrial Revolution” is upon us and internet access is becoming increasingly essential to everyone’s survival and growth.
The municipality has, therefore, been facilitating the roll-out of fibre optic cables in the region, so as to ensure that Kouga’s people have access to world-class internet connectivity.
We are also investigating the possibility of introducing fibre as a fifth utility in Kouga. The aim is to enter into a public-private partnership so that the municipality becomes part of the fibre revenue stream in a time where we can expect a decline in the income from traditional sources such as electricity, due to loadshedding, and water, due to the drought.
KEEP KOUGA GROWING
Keeping Kouga Growing is a non-negotiable. While economic growth is not considered a core mandate of local government, municipalities play a critical role in the rise or demise of their regions.
Kouga is in the process of reviewing its Local Economic Development strategy. The strategy includes training and support of local SMMEs. More than 150 SMMEs took part in various workshops during the last six months of 2019 and further training is planned for this year.
The strategy also takes into account key sectors such as Tourism and Agriculture and sets out how the municipality can facilitate the growth of these industries.
Our drive to establish Kouga as the “Events Capital of South Africa” is one way that we can support Tourism growth. In addition to co-hosting, organising and sponsoring established and new events, the municipality has secured the buy-in from key roleplayers to take the campaign forward.
Acknowledging and celebrating Kouga’s heritage also has the potential to add value to our Tourism industry. We were recently privileged to host one of South Africa’s oldest cultural ceremonies – a traditional Khoi !Nau gathering – at St Francis Bay.
Quality amenities are also essential for Tourism growth. The municipality has, therefore, been upgrading its parks and public ablution facilities.
At Jeffreys Bay the ablution facilities at Kabeljous, Tecoma Street, Pagoda Street, Magnatubes , Supertubes, Dolphin Beach, the old Friendly car park, Pellsrus, Aston Bay, Paradise Lagoon and Dawn View were upgraded during 2019.
In the greater St Francis area ablution facilities were upgraded at Shore Road, Aldabara Run, Shearwater Drive, Granny’s Pool, Main Beach, Seal Point and Cape St Francis Main Beach.
The public toilets in Hankey and Patensie’s CBD areas were also given a revamp.
Several parks have been getting a make-over.
At Kabeljous and Pellsrus Parks the ablution facilities were upgraded, braai stands were repaired and new ones built, benches were erected and new waste containers installed.
New fencing and flood lights were installed at Yellowwoods in Hankey and the upgrade of the ablution facilities is in progress.
Fencing has also been installed at the Loerie Play Park and Patensie Park. The ablution facilities were also upgraded at the latter and the braai stands repaired.
Good progress has also been made at the Jeffreys Bay and Pellsrus Caravan Parks.
The hall and chalets at Pellsrus have been tiled and painted, new curtain tracks installed and the kitchens kitted out with brand new electrical equipment. The main access gate was also repaired and a more effective booking system introduced.
The Jeffreys Bay Caravan Park is becoming a venue of which Kouga can be proud. The ablution facilities have been upgraded, extra braai stands built, electric gates installed and a fence erected on the seaside to improve security at this popular holiday facility.
These upgrades are already paying off, with the Jeffreys Bay Caravan Park becoming a sought-after venue for events.
The J’Bay Makiti took place at the caravan park in September last year while the first-ever J’Bay Bike Fest took place at the same venue this past weekend and brought thousands of biking enthusiasts from across the country to our region.
We are also in the process of appointing a service provider to develop a precinct plan for the Jeffreys Bay Central Business District. The CBD has been identified as a strategic investment node in the municipality’s LED strategy and Spatial Development Framework, the latter which is also under review.
The idea is to revive the J’Bay CBD in partnership with roleplayers and, in so doing, to increase business and employment opportunities.
The development of fresh produce and craft markets at Jeffreys Bay and Hankey is also under way and will make it easier for entrepreneurs to connect with potential buyers.
This past year also brought us a finger-licking good story to tell – an economic highlight this past year was the long-anticipated opening of a KFC at Humansdorp, bringing with it 40 job opportunities for local residents.
The business had been trying since 2011 to get the necessary municipal permission to open the branch but kept on running into closed doors. It was only when the new Council took over in 2016 that their application received the attention it deserved.
I also recently had the honour of meeting the owners of Dankie Foods. They visited Jeffreys Bay as tourists, fell in love with the town, relocated to J’Bay the very next year and are now running a successful business where local residents are employed.
Big potential investors have further started approaching Kouga, excited by the improvements they have seen in the region and eager to play a role in growing our economy and opening up job opportunities. While I cannot yet disclose further details, we expect to be able to make a big announcement in this regard later this year.
Economic growth inevitably leads to an influx of people and, with it, a greater demand for housing and rentals.
Here too the municipality has a role to play and has proven, over the past three years, that we are willing and able to do so.
Housing projects were at a standstill for nearly ten years and it has been heartening to see the incredible progress that has been made since the election of this Council.
Several RDP housing projects have been unblocked. The Kruisfontein 391 project at Humansdorp was completed in December 2019, as were the first 61 houses at the Pellsrus 220 project in Jeffreys Bay, with the remaining houses nearing completion. The formal hand-over is set to take place next week.
The installation of services to 1 300 sites of the Ocean View 1 500 project has also been completed.
Another project where good progress has been made is the Hankey RDP housing development.
The site has been cleared and sub-division has been finalised, the first new roads are being made and the provision of serviced sites is set to commence in the new financial year.
A commitment has been secured from Eskom to install electricity. This will give 300 households access to electricity for the first time ever.
Kouga Municipality has, furthermore, set aside R7-million to build temporary structures for those families that need to be relocated. It is the first time in Kouga’s history that the municipality will be assisting households in this manner, with the funding set to be used for material and the appointment of SMMEs to build the structures.
The municipality also recently concluded negotiations with PPC for the donation of extra land at Hankey, which will enable us to increase the number of RDP houses to be built to the original 990.
Council further resolved last year to intervene and assist the provincial Department of Human Settlements with the buying of land for more housing. Land for houses in KwaNomzamo and Loerieheuwel has since been purchased with municipal funds and the transfer of the sites is under way.
We also recently concluded discussions with the national Department of Public Works for the donation of land in St Francis for RDP housing. This donation was one of the long outstanding matters inherited by this Council in 2016 and we are very proud that we were able to resolve the matter, clearing yet another obstacle that was standing in the way of the Sea Vista 2000 housing project.
Other good news is that the upgrade of nine informal settlements in Kouga has been included on the provincial business plan for the new financial year following submissions by the municipality.
Further housing opportunities are also set to be created through Kouga’s first Finance Linked Individual Subsidy Progamme (FLISP) and social housing project.
The project will make first-time home-ownership possible for residents who earn between R3 501 and R22 000 per month. It will also include rental stock for households earning between R1 500 and R7 500 per month.
Jeffreys Bay has been earmarked for the pilot development and the Own Haven Housing Association was appointed at the end of 2019 to plan and implement the project.
In order to ensure greater transparency at ground level Housing Committees have been established to enable participative planning and improve communication with communities. Public meetings were held in various wards during 2019 and the committees were democratically elected with the assistance of community members and ward councillors.
Keeping Kouga’s finances growing has also been an ongoing focus and the Council passed the municipality’s first billion-rand budget last week.
We can confidently say that Kouga Municipality is financially sustainable. At the end of the first semester of the current financial year the municipality had an operating surplus of R49,2 million and the cost coverage ratio stood at 1.81 months, well within the norm set by National Treasury.
Best Audit Outcome
To top it off, the municipality received its best-ever audit opinion from the Office of the Auditor-General for the 2018/2019 financial year, including a clean bill of health for both its finances and Human Resources.
We have further been able to clear the R28-million debt we inherited from the previous Council – monies owed to the Departments of Labour and Transport.
Our Eskom account is also up to date, opening the door for us to buy electricity directly from Independent Power Producers, as announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa in his State of the Nation Address.
This will be of great significance to Kouga’s economy as it will make the region even more attractive to investors.
In closing, I would like to return to one of the biggest driving forces behind Kouga’s progress – our Fleet section.
They have been responsible for the implementation of the municipality’s Fleet Replacement Plan these past 40 months.
During this time, they have overseen the procurement of 43 new vehicles, including eights TLBs, and have repaired and refurbished 96 vehicles.
They have been instrumental in getting the municipality back on track and I would like to thank each member of Nico’s team for going that extra mile for Kouga and its communities.
You may believe that what you do is insignificant in comparison to those departments implementing multi-million rand projects, but you are living proof that the road to success does not necessarily lie in doing great things, but in doing small things in a great way.
Kouga’s turn-around and rise towards service excellence is no different to the tale of the little blue engine that believed it could – and then made the seemingly impossible happen.
While there are many mountains we still need to climb, we are on track and determined to reach our destination – without leaving anyone behind.
I would like to thank the Speaker, my Mayoral Committee, the Municipal Manager and all municipal staff for pulling extra hard this past year to get Kouga over the mountain.
The support from our business sector, community-based groups and individuals has also been nothing short of amazing and we are confident that, with you by our side, no mountain will ever be too high for us to cross and build a strong and united Kouga.
Everyone of us can make a difference. Just keep on reminding yourself:
“If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.”
I thank you.