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
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.
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
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 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.