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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.