Kouga held Sustainable Tourism Symposium

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Kouga Municipality held their first Kouga Sustainable Tourism Symposium at Mentorskraal in Jeffreys Bay on Tuesday, March 23. The symposium focused on the impacts of climate change and regenerative tourism during and post COVID-19.

Tim Harris from the Western Cape Tourism, Trade & Investment Promotion Agency (WESGRO), talked about a collaborative approach to tourism, while Prof Christian Buer from the Heilbron University in Germany focused on sustainable tourism in Kouga.

They were followed by Dr Hugh Bartis from the Nelson Mandela Bay University, who elaborated on climate change and tourism, and Kouga Local Tourism Operator, Hantie van der Westhuizen talked about the effects of COVID-19 on the local tourism industry.

SALGA International Project Manager, Tebogo Matlou, expanded on how to build inclusive green municipalities, and The County of Prince Edward Mayor, Steve Edward, talked about destination promotional videos.

Rebecca Lamb and Ashley Stewart from the Prince Edward County Municipality in Canada concluded the symposium with their talk about regenerative tourism.

Kouga held Sustainable Tourism Symposium

Present at the symposium, are (from left) Pabala Private Nature Reserve’s Head of Sales and Marketing, Heidi Halgryn, Kouga Local Tourism Operator, Hantie van der Westhuizen, SALGA International Project Manager, Tebogo Matlou, Kouga LED and Tourism Portfolio Councillor, Frances Baxter, SALGA International Project Coordinator, Clarissa Augustine, Planning, Development and Tourism Director, Fezeka Mabusela, and Planning, Development and Tourism Office Administrator, Anescha Swart

STATE OF THE MUNICIPALITY ADDRESS 2021 – Part Four

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By Kouga Executive Mayor Horatio Hendricks

KEEP KOUGA GROWING

Kouga Growing SOMA

Keeping Kouga Growing in a sustainable way is non-negotiable. Providing the environment that stimulates economic growth is a core mandate of local government.

We are in the process of developing an Investment Incentive Policy to attract job creation investment into the local economy, with a specific focus on making it a preferred business destination.

The development of the Jeffreys Bay and Humansdorp CBD precinct plans are firmly underway.

The Spatial Development Plan has been redone to bring it in line with a 30-year vision and our Local Economic Development Plan has been revised to ensure we have an inclusive and growing economy.

With all these plans in place, we formed the foundation needed to attract national and foreign direct investment.

Economic growth

The effect of COVID-19 related lockdowns has had a severe effect on our local economy. Kouga is very dependent on seasonal tourists to support our economic growth.

Municipalities, who will best recover economically, will be the ones who can grow their SMMEs, as well as attract external investment.

The Tavcor Group, one of the oldest motor groups in the Eastern Cape and Port Elizabeth, has recently moved into the Kouga region. The branch is currently run remotely with plans to have a physical address soon.

The reason for their establishment in the Kouga area, is to create job opportunities and deliver affordable vehicles and services to potential clients.

The municipality further approved the launch of a first-of-its kind mobile biochar plant in Humansdorp earlier this year, that will create on-site jobs as well as sustainable income for about 50 SMMEs.

The plant will also enhance water security, while reversing land degradation.

One Blue Gum tree can consume 500 litres of water per day. It is, therefore, imperative that we eradicate Alien Invasive Vegetation in our area that is choking rivers and decimating the water table especially in areas affected by drought.

Kouga, in partnership with Sarah Baartman District Municipality and the Department of Small Business Development, hosted an SMME Roadshow in Jeffreys Bay in October last year to present the District Development Model, with a specific focus on SMME development.

The model is a planning style aimed at aligning, integrating and accelerating service delivery under one developmental plan per district.

The aim is to utilise the model to implement the Department of Small Business Development’s (DSBD) mandate of developing entrepreneurs and small enterprises, focusing on rural towns and townships.

The platform was also used to table the Township and Rural Entrepreneurship Programme (TREP). This programme is set to capacitate Local Economic Development practitioners and community development workers in using the SMME-SA portal.

It will also assist SMMEs, who have challenges with connectivity and internet access to register.

Considering the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 100 SMMEs took part in various workshops during the current financial year.

More of these programmes are to be rolled out for this year.

As mentioned before, we are also in the process of appointing a service provider to develop a precinct plan for the Jeffreys Bay and Humansdorp Central Business Districts.

The two CBD’s have 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 CBD’s in partnership with role-players and, in doing so, to increase business and employment opportunities.

The development of fresh produce and craft markets at Jeffreys Bay and Hankey is also underway and will make it easier for entrepreneurs to connect with potential buyers.

Big potential investors have further started to approach Kouga, excited by improvements they have seen in the region and eager to play a role in growing our economy and opening job opportunities.

Together we can create and facilitate a conducive environment that builds inclusive local economies, sustainable employment and help to eradicate poverty.

Human Settlements

Economic growth inevitably leads to an influx of people and, with it, a greater demand for housing and rental opportunities.

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 10 years, and it has been heartening to see the incredible progress that has been made since the election of this Council.

Kouga is set to boast affordable social rental opportunities soon in Jeffreys Bay.

Some 300 temporary and 20 permanent job opportunities will, furthermore, be created through this initiative.

The social housing programme was officially launched at the corner of Koraal and Dolphin Street in Ocean View, Jeffreys Bay on Monday, February 22. This will open rental opportunities for residents who earn between R1 500 and R15 000.

With construction of the first phase set to commence in the 2021/ 2022 financial year, the target is to deliver at least 1 500 rental units over the next five years.

Kouga is the only municipality in the Eastern Cape to have been selected for the municipal social housing support programme and one of only six local authorities countrywide.

The municipality has, furthermore, provided 172 Kouga families with brand new RDP houses in Pellsrus. The houses, which are part of the Pellsrus 220 RDP housing development in Jeffreys Bay, is the first housing development under construction in the area in more than ten years.

We plan to build another 139 RDP houses in Humansdorp soon.

The month thereafter history was made in the Gamtoos Valley, where ten local SMMEs have been employed by the municipality to build temporary shelters for beneficiaries of the upcoming Hankey RDP housing development.

In November 2020, 110 residents received the title deeds of their houses. This brings our distribution of title deeds to three thousand and sixty-five (3 056) property owners.

A total of one thousand seven hundred and ninety-three (1 793) building plans with an estimated combined value of over R1.267 billion were approved from July 2017 to December 2020.

Since March last year, the increase in submission of building plans can be contributed to the fact that Jeffreys Bay became the perfect digital nomad destination.

Financial growth

Despite the severe impact COVID-19 has had on the local economy and in particular the tourism industry, which has resulted in businesses like restaurants, accommodation establishments and activity related operations suffering, we have weathered the storm.

We budgeted for an 85% collection rate for the 2020/ 2021 financial year. To put this into perspective, we had a 96% collection rate in our draft budget for the specific financial year.

It is pleasing to report that at the end of December 2020, and six months into the financial year, our collection rate is at 91%. This shows how resilient our economy is, despite the challenges posed by COVID-19.

We will be increasing the budgeted collection rate for the remainder of the financial year. This increase will facilitate the resealing of more roads in Kouga, the installation of additional lights in areas prone to crime and ensuring we keep Kouga clean.

We thank the residents of Kouga who have continued to pay their municipal bills despite the hardships brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are, furthermore, pleased to announce that the municipality once again received a clean audit in our finances and have kept our Eskom bill up to date, despite the drop in collections during the financial year.

Kouga remains in a stable financial position and most of our creditors are now paid within 30 days, unlike in the past when many local businesses did not want to deal with Kouga due to fear of late payment or not getting paid at all.

We still have a long way to go, but if we continue to stand together and look out for each other, we will endure.

KEEP KOUGA CARING

Kouga Cares

Every problem has in it the seeds of its own solution. The problem of COVID-19 brought forth the seeds of a caring society that fought together against the spread of the virus.

Worldwide it will be remembered for one of the biggest international health crises in more than a century, with the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging lives and economies across the globe.

Kouga was not immune to the devastation, but what stood out was how all sectors of our community took hands to help steer our region and people safely through the storm. It once again showed how resilient and caring the people of Kouga are.

The municipality played a critical role in keeping Kouga on course through the storm, taking on far more than its mandated duty.

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in March last year and the subsequent nationwide lockdown, Kouga has ploughed back close to R40 million into the community.

Apart from COVID-19 relief, the municipality has increased its adjustment budget by R31 million in September last year to improve service delivery in the region – one of only a few municipalities able to do so, if not the only.

A further R25 million has also been added to the 2021/ 2022 budget to take service delivery to even greater heights in the new financial year.

Relief measures included various payment relief for residents affected by the pandemic. Residents could have applied for reprieve on interest charges on overdue accounts from the start of the lockdown until December 31, 2020.

All debt collection measures have also been stopped for six months and blocked electricity meters were unblocked for the same period.

Other measures included a retrospective holiday, reprieve from interest on outstanding accounts, and a six-month payment arrangement.

In addition to the payment relief measures, the municipality secured 201 water tanks to help vulnerable communities combat COVID-19, extra chemical toilets were put in place, taxi ranks, pick-up points and public facilities have been sanitised.

A temporary homeless shelter had been established, and some fifteen thousand (15 000) food parcels were distributed. This amounted to almost 200 tonnes of food at a cost of R4.5 million.

I would like to thank our local business sector and community partners, as well as other spheres of government, for taking hands with the municipality to make this possible.

One hundred and ten Disaster Management volunteers were deployed to help keep Kouga communities safe from COVID-19. Their role was to encourage residents to adhere to the basic safety precautions. This is an ongoing programme.

Municipal law enforcement, security and traffic officers have been working with SAPS and private security companies to ensure residents and businesses adhere to lockdown regulations.

Apart from COVID-19 initiatives, new wheelchairs were donated to old age homes and individuals across Kouga.

Our sincere condolences and heartfelt sympathy to everyone who lost a family member or friend to COVID-19. I plan to build a plate of memorial, with all their names engraved, in their remembrance.

May their souls rest in peace.

CONCLUSION

I would like to thank the Speaker, my Mayoral Committee, the Municipal Manager, and all municipal staff for their hard work and unwavering dedication this past year to get Kouga one big step closer in becoming the best municipality in the Eastern Cape – if not the best in South Africa.

As we move towards local government elections 2021, and our term in political office draw closer to an end, I want to reflect on the sentiment of former US President, Barack Obama, in saying: “When we as a governing party started this term, we did not come here to fear the future, we came here to shape it”.

Over the last four years we turned the fortunes of a Municipality that was on the brink of collapse into a place of hope and possibility where the pursuit of happiness and prosperity is real for everyone.

We did this through grit and determination, by building trust and partnerships, and placing value on the social contract we formed with our people.

While there are many mountains we still need to climb, and a virus that we need to combat together, we are on track and determined to deliver a system of good governance through service excellence.

All while keeping Kouga safe, growing, and smart for all residents. Keeping our environment clean and green for generations to come and caring for our people from cradle to grave, from birth certificate to death certificate.

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 obstacles will ever be too big for us to overcome and build a strong and united Kouga.

I want to leave you with these words: “Wherever you send me, I will go. Whatever you ask of me, I will do. Let it not be my will, but the will of the people”.

Here is to Kouga – the next chapter.

I thank you.

EXECUTIVE MAYOY – HORATIO HENDRICKS

STATE OF THE MUNICIPALITY ADDRESS 2021 – Part Three

Kouga Municipality - logo

 

By Kouga Executive Mayor Horatio Hendricks

  • Keep Kouga Serviced  –   Published Today Tuesday 23rd March in St Francis Today)
  • Keep Kouga Clean –  Will be published tomorrow – 24th March in St Francis Today
  • Keep Kouga Green – Will be published tomorrow – 24th March in St Francis Today
  • Keep Kouga Safe  –  Will be published on Thursday 25th March in St Francis Today
  • Keep Kouga Smart, –  Will be published on Thursday – 25th March in St Francis Today
  • Keep Kouga Growing  –  Will be published on Friday 26th March in St Francis Today

KEEP KOUGA SAFE

Keep Kouga Safe

Keeping Kouga safe, be it from disease, fire, accidents, or crime has become increasingly important, and we therefore launched the first ever Public Safety Summit in September of 2020.

In February 2021, a successful community safety workshop at Mentors Country Estate was held, which forms an integral part of the Keep Kouga Safe Campaign.

On the back of a very successful Safety Plan workshop, we have now established an Integrated Intelligent Operation Centre in Humansdorp, that was launched at the end of February.

Hosted by retired General Major, Roland de Vries, the workshop – which focused on preventing and combating crime through a collective approach – brought together safety and security experts from across the region, as well as residents and business owners to lay the foundation of an effective community safety plan.

With the use of technology, including CCTV cameras, the Integrated Intelligence Operation Centre will direct and orchestrate the community safety plan on a 24/7 basis.

The Centre will work in close collaboration with all relevant stakeholders, including the South African Police Service, agricultural and civic rights organisations, municipal departments, law enforcement and emergencies agencies, NSRI, nature reserves, private security companies, businesses, schools, and churches.

In addition to the Centre, five Community Safety Units will be established. Sector 10 in Jeffreys Bay, Sector 20 in Humansdorp and Cape St Francis, Sector 30 Gamtoos Valley, Sector 40 in Oyster Bay and Tsitsikamma, Sector 50 in Kareedouw and Storms river.

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.

As part of our broader community safety initiatives, Kouga formed a partnership with Hollard Insured, and piloted an initiative at the end of last year to inspect all the fire hydrants in the municipality.

Nine young people have been temporarily recruited and trained to perform the work required. This included locating fire hydrants and recording their GPS coordinates, identifying the hydrants, cleaning, marking, and painting them, and testing water pressure.

An added advantage of the initiative is that it produced reliable data for the Water Services Department on areas requiring intervention, as all faults were referred to this department.

Some 50 residents from informal areas, including Sea Vista, were armed with innovative new fire extinguishers.

The fire extinguisher piloted and donated by the Port Elizabeth-based company Fire Killa, is specifically designed to kill small fires, and saturate the immediate vicinity to prevent flames from spreading.

Two new fire trucks also strengthened the capacity of our Fire Department to help keep Kouga safe.

Together with Gamtoos Irrigation Board and Working for Water, about 60 men and women from Humansdorp and St Francis Bay cleared alien vegetation in crime hotspots.

Clearing alien vegetation helps to preserve and restore the groundwater supply, which is critical in this time of severe drought.

It also improves the safety of people in the vicinity by reducing the risk of fires breaking out and making it more difficult for criminals to hide from their intended victims or the police.

In addition, it provides temporary work to thousands of residents who would, otherwise, be unable to put food on their family’s tables.

I would also like to applaud everyone who freely gives of their time to help clear bushes and in doing so, help to make a difference.

The Fire and Disaster Management section attended to 280 fires and 116 accidents during 2020. They also intensified efforts to reduce fire risks in those areas prone to destructive blazes. These heroes should be applauded for their sterling work.

Kouga’s Traffic Department remains committed to keeping road-users safe.

Kouga traffic

A total of 3 063 notices and fines were issued by the Traffic Department during 2020 and 13 arrests were made for drunken driving.

More than 86 animals were impounded during 2020 for posing a threat to road users. A further 502 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 must 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.

I am particularly proud of our safety and security forces for managing the move of the illegal taxi rank from Shoprite to the designated taxi rank in Humansdorp. This was a long outstanding matter, and I expected a war, but received a bloodless transition.

With respect to our traffic department, a special mention must go to Oom Jan, as he was fondly known, who recently passed and served this department for 30 years. May his soul rest in peace.

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 throughout the year.

The lifeguards work over a wide area, covering the coast from Oyster Bay to the Gamtoos Mouth.

Transporting them to their designated areas or reaching emergencies of the beaten track have in the past proved challenging as they did not have their own fleet.

We have, therefore, purchased a new 4×4 bakkie and quad bike for them.

A new 4×4 bakkie has also been procured for the Disaster Management section.

Crime affects all our daily lives and hampers economic growth. It scares off investors and impacts negatively on industries such as Tourism on which our region relies heavily for job creation and security.

Effectively addressing crime is, therefore, essential to improve the socio-economic circumstances of our communities.

I launched a project a few weeks ago in partnership with the Co-op to build and maintain a safe walkway from Kwanomzamo to Nico Malan High School to keep learners safe.

Together we can make Kouga Municipality the safest municipality in South Africa to live, work and play.

KEEP KOUGA SMART

Technology in Kouga

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.

New technology

Kouga ok a big step forward technologically when the Link service delivery app was introduced just more than three years ago.

The app, supported by the Kouga Call Centre, has proven to be an effective link between the municipalities and communities.

More than forty-three thousand three hundred and ninety (43 390) incidents were resolved through the Call Centre and Link app from March 2020 to February 2021 alone.

In addition, the Call Centre is now fully equipped to handle account balance enquiries and to register ratepayers online.

The Call Centre also allowed us to harness the power of data on service delivery and to plan and respond effectively to breakdowns and preventative maintenance.

Technology is also a game-changer when it comes to opening economic opportunities for our communities and business sector.

Jeffreys Bay has become the perfect digital nomad destination since the national COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown last year.

Remote working has become the norm for many companies and individuals, and Jeffreys Bay is perfectly positioned to take advantage of this new normal.

Not only does the town offer top co-working hubs, but also boasts a major deployment of fibre with Telkom, Herotel and Vodacam all rolling out fibre, with other companies like Frogfoot in the planning phase.

Kouga has become one of the first municipalities in the Eastern Cape to launch a virtual portal for the submissions of building plans.

Building plans could continue despite COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. Over the past year alone, 325 building plans for Jeffreys Bay were approved and 36 for Humansdorp.

The COVID-19 lockdown accelerated the digitalisation of the municipality. Councillors and officials were trained in using virtual platforms for meetings and I would like to congratulate all those involved on adapting so quickly to this new way of conducting business.

All meetings are now done using media platforms, such as tele- and videoconferencing.

Councillors and officials had been trained in using the applications, to ensure that effective deliberation, decision-making and oversight could take place despite the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.

I would like to thank and congratulate both our councillors and officials for adapting so quickly to this new way of conducting meetings.

We are also looking at rolling out our online Ovvio platform, which will form a hub for all our systems.

STATE OF THE MUNICIPALITY ADDRESS 2021 – Part Two

Kouga Municipality - logo

 

By Kouga Executive Mayor Horatio Hendricks

 

  • Keep Kouga Serviced  –   Published Today Tuesday 23rd March in St Francis Today)
  • Keep Kouga Clean –  Will be published tomorrow – 24th March in St Francis Today
  • Keep Kouga Green – Will be published tomorrow – 24th March in St Francis Today
  • Keep Kouga Safe  –  Will be published on Thursday 25th March in St Francis Today
  • Keep Kouga Smart, –  Will be published on Thursday – 25th March in St Francis Today
  • Keep Kouga Growing  –  Will be published on Friday 26th March in St Francis Today

KEEP KOUGA CLEAN

Keep Kouga Clean

The Keep Kouga Clean campaign has been growing from strength to strength over the last four years. It forms a crucial part of any municipality’s identity and character, as well as its people and how clean your environment is.

Just weeks ago, we launched our Waste Management and Recycling Programme in Humansdorp.

The programme will initially see the employment of 20 women from three wards, working for three months. They will be trained on sustainable waste management and recycling, and community-based educator and effective communication.

After training, the women will be involved with street cleaning in their wards, door-to-door education and awareness programmes on sustainable waste management and recycling.  They will also distribute bin liners for the separation of recyclable materials at home.

Other activities include tree planting, as well as river and coastal cleaning.

To date a total of twenty-one thousand four hundred and ninety-three (21493) wheelie bins have been distributed across the Kouga region.

Four refuse compactor trucks had been fitted with bin lifters to enable refuse collection teams to empty the wheelie bins quickly and efficiently.

The idea is for the bins to replace black bags, which will make it easier for residents to keep their immediate surroundings clean.

The launch of the Coca-Maak Skoon initiative, afforded Kouga residents the opportunity to get rid of any unwanted items and waste they have at home that could not be put out for standard refuse collection.

This included building rubble, electronic waste, garden refuse and even old furniture.

All residents had to do to benefit from the opportunity, was to place their unwanted goods and waste on the pavement outside their homes for collection.

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, and our towns tidy.

To keep town entrances and sidewalks clean and attractive, as well as to improve the maintenance of public facilities, the municipality secured 20 industrial lawn mowers, 38 brush-cutters and 12 grass-blowers.

Two wood-chippers have also been added to the municipal fleet at a cost of more than R500 000 to improve bush and tree-clearing operations.

Furthermore, an additional amount of R1,5 million have been made available in the adjustment budget for the hiring of landfill site equipment.

Special mention must be made to our beach teams who, once again, outdid themselves during International Coastal Clean-up Day in September.

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, the Marina Martinique Homeowners Association and business such as Woodlands Dairy, The Humansdorp Co-op, Spar and Build-it.

 

KEEP KOUGA GREEN

Keep Kouga Green

Closely linked to these efforts is our Keep Kouga Green campaign.

We entered the 2019 East Cape Greenest Municipality awards competition and was placed second. The launch of the Keep Kouga Green campaign followed this achievement.

The award recognised several initiatives introduced by the municipality, aimed at promoting sustainable development to the benefit of all communities and the planet.

These include proactive steps to reduce the amount of paper used by the municipality, tree-planting drives, and the appointment of an official recycler.

It furthermore includes Dolphin Beach’s ongoing success in the international Blue Flag eco-programme.

Kouga launched an innovative, sustainable urban food garden initiative at the end of last year which will see 30 illegal dumping sites being turned into community “Gardens of Hope”.

One such garden is the Pellsrus organic vegetable garden, which once was a litter-strewn illegal rubbish dump. It now flourishes as a productive, clean, and sustainable vegetable garden.

A small food forest, comprising of indigenous pioneer, fruit, and nut trees, are being planted to provide shelter from the wind, and to create a biodiverse green habitat that will supply fresh fruit and nuts in the future.

An organic compost pile will be used to process organic garden cuttings from the area to provide organic compost material to improve soil fertility and soil structure.

A worm farm will also be used to produce vermi-compost from organic kitchen waste from neighbouring households and to provide actively aerated compost tea.

The site is also used for training and equipping the community to grow vegetables at home.

The garden will provide workshops and offer training and assistance to adjacent community members to implement their own home vegetable gardens.

The aim is for the gardens to provide valuable nutrition and sustainable livelihoods to local communities.

We, furthermore, planted 781 trees this year to help combat climate change.

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.

STATE OF THE MUNICIPALITY ADDRESS 2021

Kouga Municipality - logo

St Francis Today will publish the entire written address over the next  four days

By Kouga Executive Mayor Horatio Hendricks

Whilst parts of the address have been posted on Facebook here is the full address in four parts for those of our many readers who are not on Facebook. 

Kouga State of Municipality presentation

“In the past financial year, our focus was on the development and expansion of our six organisational goals, which we believe are imperative to Kouga to keep moving forward.

These goals tell the narrative of how we intend to entrench a system of good governance in Kouga. This includes providing a capable state, being accountable to our clients and adhering to the rule of law. In doing so, we place people at the centre of everything we do.”

These organisational goals include:

  • Keep Kouga Serviced  –   Published Today Tuesday 23rd March in St Francis Today)
  • Keep Kouga Clean –  Will be published tomorrow – 24th March in St Francis Today
  • Keep Kouga Green – Will be published tomorrow – 24th March in St Francis Today
  • Keep Kouga Safe  –  Will be published on Thursday 25th March in St Francis Today
  • Keep Kouga Smart, –  Will be published on Thursday – 25th March in St Francis Today
  • Keep Kouga Growing  –  Will be published on Friday 26th March in St Francis Today

The past 12 months were filled with turbulence and triumph with the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging lives and economies across the world.

Kouga was not immune to the devastation, but we stood firm against adversity and held the line.

KEEP KOUGA SERVICED

The effort to keep Kouga serviced, despite the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and prolonged drought, presented us with the most challenging trials we have never seen in many decades.

 But keeping Kouga serviced, was never optional.

Sanitation

Sea Vista Sewer System

Over the past year, Kouga has opened not one, but two, state-of-the-art waste water treatment works to unlock development in Humansdorp and St Francis.

Just three months after opening the cutting-edge Kruisfontein Waste Water Treatment Works, another state-of-the-art sewer plant has been completed in the Kouga region.

Built at a cost of R31 million, the Sea Vista Waste Water Treatment Works (WWTW) at St Francis Bay was opened at the end of February last year.

The 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 exclusively, clocking in at 44 639 hours. In addition, 10% of the contract value was sub-contracted to Exempted Micro Enterprises (EMEs).

While the Patensie Waste Water Treatment Works is nearing completion, the upgrade of the KwaNomzamo Waste Water Treatment Works already have a contractor on site. This plant needs some serious intervention, after it was vandalised in 2016, and I would urge our administration to move with haste.

I am also pleased to report that several container ablution facilities were delivered to Kouga and are key to our efforts to eradicate the bucket system in our region once and for all. Twenty containers have been purchased and six have already been delivered to residents in Thornhill, Stofwolk in Hankey and Maak-`n-Las in Humansdorp.

Chemical toilets were also installed at the new section of Donkerhoek in Humansdorp.

Furthermore, the operating expenditure in the adjustment budget has been increased by R9.6 million, that includes the hiring of additional tankers and jetting trucks at a cost of R5.5 million.

Roads

Tarring roads in Kouga municipality

Roads provide access to livelihoods and supports our local economic development. In other words, roads represent progress. It provides a visible buffer against economic decline.

Kouga is making considerable progress in the resealing and repair of roads across the region – effectively reducing the R500 million backlog in road maintenance we inherited from the previous term.  

More than R25 million has been pumped into the resealing of roads since March 2020, while close to R1 million was spent on gravel road maintenance since July 2020.

Almost twenty-three thousand eight hundred and seventy-six metres (23 876m) of road were resealed since March 2020 to February 2021, and we hope to reseal twelve thousand three hundred metres (12 300m) more over the next four months.

Roads that recently received a new lease on life are the access roads to Loerie, Dolphin Street in Pellsrus and the access road to Ocean View that passes Jeffreys Bay Comprehensive High.

Other roads that were resealed include Du Plessis Street in Humansdorp, and Uys Street and Noorsekloof in Jeffreys Bay. A section of Judy Street in Loerieheuwel, Charlie Malan, Tier and Stuurman Street in Patensie were also resealed.

Tshume Street in Hankey was recently surfaced.

Since declaring war on potholes in September 2018, pothole repairs are an ongoing operational priority across the region.

A total of fifteen thousand nine hundred and three (15 903) potholes were fixed over the last 12 months – that is more than one thousand three hundred and twenty-five (1 325) potholes per month. Over the last three years, thirty-nine thousand and sixty-six (39 066) potholes were fixed.

To demonstrate how serious, we are about fixing roads, an additional R20.5 million has been secured in the adjustment budget to continue with the resealing programme until the end of June 2021.

This will also have a positive benefit on the cost of repairing potholes in the future.

However, we are not ignoring the fact that we have many roads in Kouga that need pothole repairs and we have increased the roads maintenance materials by an additional R1.5 million.

Kouga proudly boasts the first eco-friendly road in Africa, sparking national and international interest.

This road took gold in the Innovation category and silver in the Eco-build category at the 9th annual Eco-Logic Awards.

I would like to thank our road teams for their hard work and perseverance. Roads are the arteries that feed our economy, it is imperative that leaders in local government comprehend this.

Water security

water security Kouga Municipality

Our collective response to the drought in Kouga will always leave an indelible mark in our history. People will ask each other in 50 years, “Do you remember that time in Kouga when we had the long drought and COVID-19 at the same time?”

May people also say, “Wow! We sure had a good government to help us get through all of that”.

Therefore, water security, for the sake of current and future generations, must remain high on our agenda.

The Kouga dam sits at a precarious 6% capacity, with less than 3% of its water available for use. Over the last three years we have put R151 million drought disaster grant to good use to achieve water security for all communities.

The drought though, aggravated by climate change, remains a grave concern.

The level of the Impofu Dam – the biggest dam serving Jeffreys Bay, Humansdorp and St Francis Bay – stood at only 15.8% on Monday, March 15, and the smaller Churchill Dam at 39.59%.

But we cannot allow nature to hold us back. The Jeffreys Bay Water Treatment Plant is being upgraded to cater for additional borehole water.

The augmentation of the Kruisfontein water supply will see other water sources – for example springs – connected to the system.

Furthermore, the operating expenditure in the adjustment budget has been increased by R9.6 million to cater for the hiring of additional tankers.

We are also securing jetting trucks at a cost of R5.5 million. This is to ensure that when we have breakages in water services, we are able to respond to it immediately.

During lockdown, when vulnerable groups were most at risk to contract COVID- 19, more than 200 rainwater tanks were installed in rural areas and informal settlements in partnership with the Department of Human Settlements.

We urge all residents and businesses to keep using water only when necessary and to use as little as possible when you do. Please limit your usage to 50l per person per day.

To further strengthen our capacity to deal with future water security, we are working closely with the German municipality, Ilsfeld, to augment water supply to local communities.

The projects being considered include rainwater harvesting, developing the natural springs at Kruisfontein in Humansdorp and interlinking Kouga’s bulk water supply systems.

A Smart Leak Detection Vehicle from Germany to Kouga is expected around October 2021, and an engineer sponsored by GIZ, specialising in water demand management, will also assume duty with us at around the same time.

May I say, our water security crises are far from over, but neither is the extent of our resilience.

Electricity

LED Lighting in Kouga

One of the greatest privileges we have as Kouga Municipality has been to power up communities.

The electrification of 100 houses at Donkerhoek in Humansdorp was completed earlier this year and power is set to be installed to a further 200 houses in Kruisfontein. Some R5.2 million having been budgeted for this purpose.

The switch-on brings the total number of sub-economic houses and sites to be electrified in Humansdorp, over the past four years to 797. This includes the 391 RDP houses built at Kruisfontein, as well as a further 306 sites at Donkerhoek.

Six informal settlements also received electricity at a combined cost of R2.5 million. This includes No-10 Rand, Pellsrus, Police Camp, Gamtoos Camp and Ebumnyameni. Fifty more units in Ebumnyameni will receive electricity soon.

Kouga is one of few local municipalities in the Eastern Cape, if not the only one, to electrify informal settlements.

As I speak, the electrification of the informal settlement of Stofwolk in Hankey is happening. Soon, this community will have electricity for the first time ever since it came into existence in the year 2000.

With the national failure of Eskom to provide us with a consistent supply of energy, we realise that to save power the municipality would have to play its part to conserve energy, as well as combat climate change at the same time.

We are busy replacing standard streetlights with energy-efficient LED lights. More than 1 000 street- and floodlights across the region have been retrofitted with LED lights.

The programme was first rolled out in the 2019/20 financial year after the municipality’s electrical services section secured R4 million from the national Department of Energy for the Energy Efficiency Demand Side Management (EEDSM).

The funding also made provision for job creation, which enabled us to employ six youths from the area for three months.

The municipality already secured further funding from its own budget to purchase another 1 000 LED lights as part of our commitment towards service excellence and cutting down on carbon emissions to help save the planet by supporting green energy.

To secure power supply, the electricity networks at Jeffreys Bay, Humansdorp and St Francis Bay have been upgraded and two generators have been procured as backups.

We improved our response time to call-outs with the purchase of an additional five new bakkies for the municipality’s Electrical section – improving our services to communities.

The ongoing upgrade of the 66kv double circuit overhead line between Melkhout Substation in Humansdorp and the main intake substation in Jeffreys Bay is on track. An amount of R1.3 million was spent on the upgrade in the current financial year, while R1.8 million was spent in the previous financial year.

Three additional high mast lights will be installed in this financial year in Humansdorp to improve community safety. We will procure more in the next financial year.

The upgrading and refurbishment of the Saffery Substation in Humansdorp at a cost of R4.5 million over the next three years, are also on the cards.

The municipality is, furthermore, in the process to request the Minister of Minerals & Energy to grant us permission to procure our own renewable energy plant.

Public Amenities

Upgrading public amenities in Kouga Municipality

 Public amenities such as parks, halls, sports fields, and cemeteries play a central role when it comes to building social cohesion and creating shared spaces.

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.

The municipality recently built 30 play parks across the region. Most of the play parks were funded through the Ward Development Fund (WDF), allocated to ward councillors to initiate, and support projects in their respective wards.

The ablution facilities at the Pellsrus Beach Park in Jeffreys Bay were upgraded after it was vandalised last year, and extra braai stands were installed.

The Kruisfontein Civic Centre, Thornhill Clubhouse, KwaNomzamo, Pellsrus, Patensie, Vusumzi Landu and Newton Hall, and the Tokyo Sexwale sports field were upgraded to a very high standard.

The Jeffreys Bay and Yellowwoods Caravan Park received a new lease on life, while the parks at Kabeljouws, Pellsrus and Cape St Francis Main Beach were upgraded.

C-Place Cemetery was painted, and burglar bars and an alarm system were installed, while BB Keet Cemetery’s ablution facility was upgraded.

SMME’s were employed to clean the cemeteries at C-Place, KwaNomzamo, Arcadia, Humansdorp town, Loerie, Hankey and Patensie.

Two new cemeteries are also to be constructed in Hankey.

Fleet

Kouga Municipality Fleet Management

Kouga’s fleet section has been one of the biggest driving forces behind the municipality’s service successes and subsequent progress.

Since August 2016, they have overseen the procurement of 57 new vehicles, including eight TLB’s, three firefighting and eight Toyota LDV’s vehicles and two chippers.

They have furthermore repaired and refurbished over 115 vehicles.

One of the latest refurbishments is an old Komatsu TLB and a MAN tipper truck, two cherry pickers and one old fire truck.

They have also repaired and refurbished four sewerage suction tankers, and one old redundant refuse compactor has been converted into a sanitation truck.

The old Ford tractor you see on the screen is one of my favourite examples and a perfect illustration of how Kouga Municipality has been making the impossible possible.

They have been instrumental in getting the municipality back on track and I would like to thank each member of the team for going that extra mile for Kouga and its communities.

In 2016 only 40% of Kouga’s fleet was in good working order. That meant that even if staff wanted to work, they could not because they could not get where they needed to go to fulfil the municipality’s constitutional mandate.

Now, more than four years later at least 96% of the municipality’s vehicles are on the road every-day, thanks to the incredible turn-around of our fleet section.

Kouga Strikes Back

Kouga Municipality - logo

 

KOUGA Municipality has obtained an urgent interim Labour court order interdicting and restraining all employees from continuing with the illegal, unlawful and unprotected strike.

In January 2021, SAMWU – the biggest labour union in Kouga Municipality – obtained a strike certificate from the SALGBC in which they demanded a COVID-19 allowance.

SAMWU then subsequently gave notice to the Municipality to embark on a strike, in which the Municipality then referred an application and interpretation dispute to the CCMA.

SAMWU and the Municipality then agreed as per a settlement agreement to finalise the said dispute at the CCMA before SAMWU can embark on a strike.

This was then made an order of the Labour Court.

The CCMA then subsequently ruled that they do not have jurisdiction over the case, and then transferred the case to the SALGBC.

SAMWU then immediately embarked on an illegal strike after receiving the CCMA ruling as they deemed the matter as finalised.

The Municipality saw this action as mala fide and the strike was declared unlawful and unprotected.

SAMWU and all the striking employees were advised as such on two occasions, however, the strike continued unabated.

The Municipality then approached the Labour Court and on 16 March 2021, the Municipality obtained an interim Labour Court interdict declaring the strike as unlawful and invalid and interdicting and restraining all striking employees from continuing with the strike.

The dispute referred to the CCMA, which in turn has been referred to the Bargaining Council, must first be finalised  as per the Labour Court ruling, as has been reiterated by the Municipality numerous times.

“The principal of no work no pay will apply to all striking employees,” said Kouga Executive Mayor, Horatio Hendricks.

“Services should be back to normal from tomorrow, and we thank the public for their patience.”

Kouga Court Order - Samwu

 
 

PLEASE MAKE EVERY EFFORT TO SAVE WATER

Kouga Dam Levels