RDP Houses for Christmas

First RDP houses handed over in Kouga in more than a decade

Thirty-five families from Humansdorp received the biggest Christmas presents of their lives today when the first RDP houses of the Kruisfontein 391 project were handed over.

Kouga Mayor Elza van Lingen said it was a joyful day for Kruisfontein. “No houses have been built in Kouga for the past 11 years and residents have been waiting patiently for this project to get going since it was approved in 2009. It is a big day for Humansdorp and our region as a whole,” she said. “It is heartening that local and provincial government were able to work together for the community and to ensure a new beginning for these beneficiaries.”

MEC Helen Sauls-August and the East Cape Department of Human Settlements were also in attendance as hundreds of residents gathered at Kruisfontein for the hand-over. Ribbons were cut at three houses while the remaining 32 beneficiaries were introduced to the community at a ceremony.

62-year-old widow Paulina Magielies received the first house at Kruisfontein 391 from Mayor Elza van Lingen and MEC Helen Sauls-August.

Among the first three beneficiaries who received their houses from the Mayor and MEC, was Paulina Magielies, a 62-year-old widow who depends on her pension to look after herself and two adopted sons, Shelton Boesak (14) and Clayton Magielies (12). Mrs Magielies said she and the boys have had to share a house with her mother as she could not afford to get her own place. “This is such a special day for our family. I have always trusted in God to look after us and today is an answer to my prayers,” she said.

Mayor Elza van Lingen welcomes Connie Kabani and her son, Conwyn, to their new RDP house. Connie’s mother was the original beneficiary of the house but sadly passed away almost a year ago before the house was completed.

 

 

Also among the first three beneficiaries, was Connie Kabani (37), whose mother, Georgina, was one of the original beneficiaries of the housing project but sadly passed away before her house was completed. “I had to leave school when I was in grade 11 to work and look after my mother, as she was very ill. I have been the breadwinner of my family ever since. It hasn’t been easy. Receiving this house is an incredible blessing,” she said.

The last of the first three beneficiaries were the Adams family, who earlier this year lost everything in a fire. Spaas Adams, who was at the hand-over with her 11-year-old daughter Ilse, thanked the Department of Human Settelements and Kouga Municipality for giving them a place of their own to celebrate Christmas and the new year. “It is a new beginning for us,” she said.

Ward councillor Freddy Campher, Kouga Mayor Elza van Lingen and Finance portfolio councillor Brenton Williams prepare for the hand-over of the third house.

A street view of the RDP houses

Mayor’s feedback

Executive Mayor Elza van Lingen keeping us in the loop

The feedback address by our Kouga Executive Mayor Elza van Lingen last Thursday had a fair sized attendance but one really would like to see a larger audience of younger bodies at these meetings. Ward 12 is made up of St Francis Bay, Cape St Francis and Paradise Beach and surely must represent several thousand residents so an audience of around 100 bodies is just a little disappointing. No doubt there will be many who bemoan the progress being made by the Mayor and her council but make not the slightest effort to find out what is really happening preferring to criticise rather what isn’t happening.

Kicking off the meeting the Mayor did a little soft sell on the new service app that the Kouga municipality has introduced. Kouga is only the second municipality, after Cape Town,  under DA control to have this app and it certainly sounds an efficient way of not only reporting problems in the boundaries of the municipality but more importantly following up and seeing whether there is progress on one’s report. If you have not already downloaded the app you can do so for either Android and IOS at download.linkapp.co.za/#dl,

Next on the agenda and almost to be expected in spite of the recent good news was Thyspunt.  It seems Eskom haven’t totally given up hope on Thyspunt but in van Lingen’s opinion it will not be happening in the near future although the Minister of Environment Affairs could still overturn Duynesfontein for Thyspunt, especially if you know who decides it will be so. Should that happen there can be no doubt Thyspunt Alliance will be in the forefront of the battle once more. Rumours that Kouga wwould receive a cash injection of some R4 billion were also apparently without substance but rather  a wish list.

On the matter of finance, whist the situation is still dire after inheriting an all but bankrupt municipality from the ANC. Van Lingen stressed how they are now able to operate finance with a month in reserve, not although not ideal, dertainly an improvement on a year ago.

But to more serious matters which sadly some are still not taking seriously. Kouga along with much of the Eastern Cape is still facing severe water shortage and as we are supplied with water by the Nelson Mandela Bay we are totally in their hands. Apart from the fact that NMB water is unlikely to assist us with funding as the water shortage becomes more critical, the Mayor and her committee are redirecting funds from other services, wherever possible, so as to develop boreholes should the water crisis become that critical. These monies are most likely going to come from less essential services such as roads so if we have a few more potholes over the holiday period we can explain our visitors it was either potholes or water. Maybe a poster campaign will help our influx of visitors appreciate just how serious our situation is. Oyster Bay apparently is already past critical and they are in the process of drilling for water. The situation in the Gamtoos Valley appears equally catastrophic and the season hasn’t yet started.

From recent press reports Kouga has declared war on waste and the Mayor expanded on this with the intention of council to introduce Wheelie Bins to Ward 12. Certainly they are used throughout the world and certainly keep garge safe from marauding dogs and far easier and efficient with the right vehicles doing the garbage pickups. The problem will come when the public hears they will have to buy their own wheelie rather than being supplied one free of charge by council.

Some positive feedback on the APP

 

WE ALL HAVE TO DO OUR BIT – SAVE WATER!

More on the Mayor’s feedback tomorrow,  the SRA, camera security, the riots  and more.

Blue Flag Awards

2017/18 SOUTH AFRICAN BLUE FLAG AWARDS

Godfrey Louw (Kouga Municipality), WESSA CEO Dr Thommie Burger, Mayor Elza van Lingen (Kouga Municipality), Cllr Danny Benson (Kouga Municipality) and Minister of Tourism, the Honourable Ms Tokozile Xasa

Dolphin Beach in Jeffreys Bay provided the ideal setting for the 2017/18 Blue Flag launch. The wide, sandy beach makes it popular with families, while its legendary surfing spot “Supertubes” has given the beach international fame. The Executive Mayor, Cllr Elza van Lingen, who delivered the opening address at the event spoke about the value which Blue Flag adds to tourism, adding that while Kouga Municipality only has one beach on the programme their approach is to raise the standard of all Kouga beaches to that of Dolphin Blue Flag Beach.

Sixty-two Blue Flags will be proudly flown at 44 beaches, seven marinas and by eleven sustainable tourism boats around South Africa over the forthcoming 2017/18 South African Blue Flag season, which opens officially on 1 November this year. This was announced at the prestigious national Blue Flag launch hosted by the Kouga Municipality at Dolphin Beach, Jeffreys Bay, in the Eastern Cape earlier today.

Earlier this year all applications for the Blue Flag eco-label were reviewed through a rigorous multi-stage approval process involving both national and international assessments, by a South African and International Jury Panel.

The Western Cape has achieved the highest number of Blue Flag sites, with 28 of the beaches, all eleven boats and six of the seven Blue Flag marinas falling in the province. This shows an increase of three Blue Flag boats from the previous season, and one additional marina.

KZN again has nine Blue Flag beaches for the 2017/18 season. Seven beaches and one marina have been awarded the eco-label in the Eastern Cape, which is on par with the previous season.

An additional 22 beaches across the three provinces will participate on the Pilot Programme. This is an important developmental stage for potential Blue Flag sites, during which WESSA works with beach managers and Tourism Blue Flag Beach Stewards towards the longer-term goal of achieving full Blue Flag status.  Internationally, over 4,400 beaches, boats and marinas currently hold Blue Flag status in 46 countries.

Speaking at the event, Minister of Tourism, the Honourable Ms Tokozile Xasa thanked WESSA for the work the organisation is doing through the Blue Flag programme.  She said that the department is looking to attract five million tourists to South Africa over the next five years, and Blue Flag must be used as a selling tool to bring these visitors to our shores, and to ensure that visitors have a positive experience in our country.  She added that by entering into a partnership with WESSA in 2016 to implement the Tourism Blue Flag project the department is utilising the Expanded Public Works Programme to ensure that jobs are created for young people in the tourism industry.

The annual Blue Flag Awards also celebrate the sustained partnerships that WESSA has built with key municipalities around the country, who have recognised the value of Blue Flag not just to environmental management and education, but also to tourism, economic development and job creation. Their commitment to the programme is evident in the fact that 25 beaches have been on the programme for five or more consecutive years, while eleven beaches have achieved Blue Flag status for more than 10 consecutive years. Dolphin Beach, which provided the backdrop for the season launch, celebrates a remarkable 16 consecutive years on the programme this year. Humewood Beach in Port Elizabeth along with Grotto Beach in Hermanus has participated for all seventeen years that the Blue Flag programme has been running locally.

Says Vincent Shacks, WESSA Ecotourism Manager: “Blue Flag is an excellent example of what is achievable when government, both local and national, partner with civil society. Not only does the programme encourage adherence to very high, international standards for beaches, boats and marinas but it has also created an excellent platform from which to develop young and enthusiastic, sustainable tourism ambassadors. Through the Tourism Blue Flag project, the National Department of Tourism has partnered with WESSA to demonstrate its commitment to the development of South Africa’s youth. Over the past year these Blue Flag “Beach Stewards” have played a critical role in the maintenance of the Blue Flag standards at our beaches as well as conducting valuable environmental education activities and campaigns all along our beautiful coastline.”

Since its launch in 1987, the Blue Flag programme has continued to grow, not only regarding the number of member countries and sites involved, but also in its range of expertise within marine and freshwater environments.  WESSA is proud to have been the national implementing partner for Blue Flag in South Africa since 2001.

View the full list of 2017/18 Blue Flag Beaches, Boats and Marinas

BLUE FLAG MARINA
WESSA CEO Dr Thommie Burger, Godfrey Louw, Director of Social Services Dadamasi (Kouga Municipality), Cllr Danny Benson Dadamasi (Kouga Municipality), Greg Miller from Cape St Francis Canals (Blue Flag Marina), Gcobisa Dadamasi (Kouga Municipality) and Minister of Tourism, the Honourable Ms Tokozile Xasa

About Blue Flag:

The Blue Flag Programme, now in its 30th year, is focused on the conservation of marine and coastal habitats, and is designed to raise environmental education and awareness, and increase sound environmental practices among tourists, local populations and beach management.

To achieve Blue Flag status, as many as 33 different criteria spanning over four aspects of coastal management must be met and maintained:  water quality, environmental education and information, environmental management, and safety and services.  Each Blue Flag site is compelled to conduct several environmental education activities during the year, and to practise effective and efficient conservation management.

In South Africa, the Blue Flag programme is managed by WESSA and participating coastal municipalities. In the Southern Hemisphere, the Blue Flag season runs from 1 November to 31 October each year. Beaches are required to apply for Blue Flag status each year and the Blue Flag standards are only enforced at the beaches over the participating beach’s stated season, which varies from just two months of the year to the full 12 months. 

The Blue Flag programme is operated under the auspices of the Foundation for Environmental Education and is headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark. The criteria are set by the international coordinators of the Blue Flag campaign in Europe, the FEE (Foundation for Environmental Education). Through close collaboration with their members on all issues, the Foundation for Environmental Education works to ensure the programme’s expansion, and that the unrivalled standards of the Blue Flag are maintained internationally. The detailed criteria and award process is available on Blue Flag’s international website www.blueflag.global

About WESSA:

WESSA implements effective environmental, ecotourism, education and youth development programmes throughout South Africa.  The organisation improves the school curriculum through education for sustainable development and provide critical work skills training, which creates job opportunities and sustainable livelihoods in local communities. WESSA’s environmental initiatives contribute towards the restoration of ecosystems, while their Blue Flag, Green Key and Green Coast ecolabels – and associated Tourism Blue Flag and Tourism Green Coast projects in partnership with the National Department of Tourism – support tourism growth and development by encouraging responsible tourism practices and the improved management of our coastline.  For more information visit www.wessa.org.za

For more information contact: Catherine Ritchie, WESSA Marketing & Communications Manager – Tel 021 701 1397   Cell 082 321 2794   Email communications@wessa.co.za

New Directors

Council approves appointment of two new directors

The Kouga Council approved the appointment of two municipal directors at a special meeting in Jeffreys Bay last week.

Victor Felton – Director: Infrastructure, Planning and Development

Executive Mayor Elza van Lingen said Council had resolved to renew the contract of Victor Felton as Director: Infrastructure, Planning and Development while Krishen Moodley received the nod as Director: Administration, Monitoring, Evaluation and Special Projects.

Felton took up his position on 1 August while Moodley’s contract is being finalised. Both appointments will also be submitted to East Cape Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC, Fikile Xasa, for concurrence.

The Mayor said the Council had resolved that the position of Director: Social Services Director would be re-advertised.

She added that the filling of the position of Director: Local Economic Development, Tourism and Creative Industries had been put on hold pending a review of the municipality’s portfolio and directorate structures.

“The manner in which directorates are structured, influences how effectively employees can perform their duties. Over the past year we have discovered that the existing structure does little to support interdepartmental cooperation and optimal performance. We are, therefore, reviewing the structure before finalising the appointment of further directors,” she said.

The five-year contracts of Kouga’s former Director: Administration, Monitoring, Evaluation and Special Projects, Thobeka Tom, Director: Local Economic Development, Tourism and Creative Industries, Carleen Arends, and Director: Social Services, Japie Jansen, came to an end on 31 July 2017.

New Municipal Manager

The new Municipal Manager Charl du Plessis took up his position in June 2017 while the contract of CFO Selwyn Thys runs till 2022.

 

Water price increase

Steep water price increase from August

Save Water Urgently

The price of water is set to increase steeply from August when Kouga starts charging emergency drought tariffs.

Kouga Mayor Elza van Lingen said the implementation of the higher charges – Part C of the municipality’s tariff structure – was approved by Council at the end of May. The Council also declared a local state of disaster at the same meeting because of the prolonged drought and looming water shortages.

Water restrictions and Part B (critical but not emergency) water tariffs have been in place in Kouga municipal since December 2016.

Van Lingen said Kouga had further been instructed by the national Department of Water and Sanitation to cut back its water consumption by 25% because dam levels had reached critical levels.

“If good rains don’t fall in the catchment areas soon, we are heading for a disaster that will have far-reaching negative implications for the region as a whole,” she said.

“We call on all residents and business to save water urgently. Every drop counts.”

She said an emergency action plan, aimed at conserving and increasing the water supply, would be tabled to Council.

“Emergency measures will include increasing consumer education and the sinking of additional boreholes.

“With the disaster declaration having been gazetted, we are now also in a position to apply for funding assistance from provincial and national government to implement the emergency measures.”

The implementation of emergency tariffs and call for water consumption to be reduced by at least 25% are also in effect in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro. Kouga purchases most of its water for domestic use from the Metro, which manages the dams on behalf of the Department of Water and Sanitation.

Kouga water tariffs

KOUGA WATER SHORTAGE 

 
Residents and visitors are reminded that there is a serious water shortage in Kouga because of the prolonged drought. If you have visitors, please warn them to use water sparingly so that our taps don’t run dry!