Since the last newsletter of Aug 2018, there is very little positive to report. The proposed tender process, which was passed by a Council resolution earlier in the year and aimed at getting interested airlines to tender for the Plett route, has never got off the ground.
Cemair was put on a month to month basis during the initial phase of this tender process, and this remains the status quo. In Sept the Council produced a new draft SLA, which Cemair has apparently made comment on/amendment to, and this has now been circulated among the various Directors within the Council for comment.
We have not been privy to the contents of this draft document but have conveyed our view of the urgency of finalising this, to the Council.
The airport remains RFF Cat 4, so Cemair cannot use their new larger Dash 8 Q-400 on the route. Their holiday season schedule will use the Dash 8 – 100, and – 300, on the JNB route, twice daily, and the B – 1900 on the CPT route, 3 times daily.
The satellite fire station and new offices, both using containers, remain incomplete. The contractor went into liquidation and the Council is still in litigation over the matter.
Within the Council, responsibility for the airport has recently been transferred from Strategic Services to Community Services, under Mr. Mark Fourie, who is busy getting himself up to speed on all aspects. We will be meeting with him as soon as possible. Garden Route Gliding has been out of operation for basically the whole year, whilst they fight the overwhelming red tape war of changing their operating licence as required by CAA. We really hope that they will be up and running for the Season, as they are a great attraction here in Plett.
Here’s hoping that the Council will see the potential in our airport and give it the necessary attention in 2019.
I am pleased to report that after the yearly inspection six Plett beaches have maintained their Blue Flag status for another year. This is a world-wide organization that is highly respected, and these awards are vitally important for Plett’s Tourism industry as visitors know that the seawater quality is safe for swimmers and the beaches meet the Blue flag required standards.
The Blue Flag Beaches are Natures Valley, The Waves at Keurbooms, The Dunes, Lookout Beach, Robberg 5 and Singing Kettle.
Having done regular inspections of the toilet facilities I have found serious problems in that vandals are damaging the facilities by breaking taps and toilets, breaking the toilet paper holders and stealing the toilet paper and leaving the facilities in a dirty state. The Lifeguard Towers are also frequently damaged.
Beach Control is fully aware of the problems and are making efforts to maintain the toilet facilities to a high standard and to have the refuse bins emptied regularly. Complaints have also been received regarding Life Guards not paying attention to the swimmers in the water but playing on their cell phones. Beach control assure me that in terms of the new employment contracts this has been addressed and life guards who are reported using cell phones while on duty, other than for emergency use will have disciplinary action taken against them and could have their contracts cancelled. However, if this behavior is observed it must be reported to Beach Control on 044 501 3125.
Since Cemair no longer sponsor the life guards on the main beaches during the off season no life guards were on duty over the June/July school holidays. Due to some serious incidents on the beaches over the long weekend at the end of September and the first weekend of October it was deemed vital that life guards be employed to cover Main Beach, Robberg 5 and Lookout Beach. One of our EXCO members, Marius Venter, undertook to raise funds for the life guards and was highly successful in his endeavours. Funds to the tune of R28 000 was raised over a period of just one day. This Association got the ball rolling by donating R 5 000 to the cause. The public and various other interested parties contributed the balance which enabled life guards to be employed for the month of October. Bitou Municipality fund life guards from 1 November to 30 April on Look Out beach, Central Beach and Robberg 5 Beach and on other popular beaches until the end January.
If you should encounter any unruly behavior on the beaches please contact beach control.
Very sadly, when one considers the importance to the tourism industry of this time of the year, a number of parolees, together with a number of persons who have completed their sentences, have and continue to be released back into the Bitou area. Most of the offenders in question are well known offenders and our experience of them leads us to believe that they r
eturn to their old ways shortly after being released and our expectations in this regard have been realised with an upliftment in the number of house breakings and thefts out of motor vehicles being perpetrated in the area. There has also been a significant shift back to the commission of crime in Sector 1 (Plett Town Area) away from sector 2 (New Horizons/Quolweni) which has been the priority sector for some months as a result of which the residents of Sector 1 need to increase their level of security awareness until the criminals in question have been re-arrested and sent back to prison. Although 11 housebreakings and 10 thefts out of motor vehicles over a period of a month is still relatively low compared to days gone by, it is above recent levels, warranting increased vigilance.
The areas mainly affected to date are The CBD, Marine Drive, Poortjies which are the most easily accessible parts of the town so residents of those areas need to be particularly vigilant – not only on our own behalf but on behalf of the visitors to our town. Please become part of your local Plett Watch or other neighbourhood watch group and report any suspicious activity or movement so that such activities can be dealt with prior to a crime being committed. The vehicle of a Plett Rage attendee which contained a large amount of property has been broken into and a large amount of property taken. The vehicle was left overnight in an exposed position. As residents we should not allow our visitors to be exposed to this type of criminal activity – if any of you see this type of situation, it is your duty to advise the visitor that his/her property is not safe exposed in a vehicle overnight and to recommend that the property be removed to a safe repository.
Most activity has taken place on Monday night followed by Saturday and Tuesday with prime hours are between 6pm and mid-night.
The vast majority of break ins into houses is by forcing open a door which leads me to believe that residents may be paying scant attention to my urgings too install proper secure drop type locks to their exterior doors. Disappointingly people are still leaving valuables in sight in their vehicles.
Please remember that the more difficult we make accessing our homes and property, the less attractive it is for criminals to operate in our area.
The Plett Rage commences on the 30th November during which numerous naïve students will inhabit our town followed by season and an influx of thousands of visitors. We need to be at our best as a community to protect our visitors from criminal activity whilst in our town.
A very sincere vote of gratitude to all the hard working volunteers who work day and nigh so that we, as a community, can live safe and secure lives in a country in which crime levels are generally increasing.
During the past 6 months the power infrastructure proceeded, albeit at a slow rate. The high voltage (HV) ring main section from Brakkloof substation (at waste tip) to substation SS7 (at the Total Garage) has been completed as has the commissioning of the new Longships substation with its high-tech switchgear, thus stabilising the power supply to Plett south. New switchgear for SS7 is on site and just needs to be installed.
The eventual program is to have a complete HV ring feed around the entire town, allowing for power, in the event of a breakdown anywhere in the main supply system, to be fed to an affected area from a different section of the ring.
Installation of cabling for the HV ring section on the northern part of town is compete from substation SS1 (Formosa Garden Village) along the N2 to Substation SS4 (Market Square), and part of the way along the new section of Beacon Way on its way to the Taxi Rank substation SS2. The last remaining sections of the cabling, to complete the ring, are from the top end of the newly completed road of Beacon Way to SS2, and from SS7 up the hill to SS2. This will only be done in future financial years and subject to availability of finance.
The Prepaid Meter saga was published by the Association in August and the resultant fall-out (caused by complete lack of communication by the Finance department with the Engineering department) led to the departure of the town Electrical Engineer, a great loss to Plett.
Street lights and their maintenance still remains a problem, caused partly by a budget constraint for high-lift equipment.
The new dual HV cable from Plett Primary School to the Keurbooms River is installed up to the old polo fields and is partially energised.
The current water supply to Bitou is stable. The good rain in early September brought the Roodefontein Dam to over 100%, resulting also in a massive, albeit short, flow of the Keurbooms River (Bitou’s main source of water). As a result, water restrictions were lifted in October. Nevertheless, residents have been requested to use water sparingly as we are entering the hot and dry summer season, where the Keurbooms River flow can easily drop below the 300 l./sec. level at which extraction from this source must stop. Roodefontein Dam, even when full, is only an emergency supply for the town.
Average daily water consumption for Bitou in the off-season is of the order 8 to 9 megaliter/day (Ml/day), but over the Christmas period rises to between 15 and 17 Ml/day and has peaked in the past at 23 Ml/day. This gives an idea of the excessive strain put on our supply over the holiday period.
Several boreholes have been drilled and commissioned to augment the supply to the Purification Plant – one at the plant itself, 2 on the Golf Course, and at Kwanokuthula, all for the town supply, and 2 boreholes each at Harkerville and Kurland to service those communities. The boreholes drilled on the main water supply pipeline servitude at Uplands (for eventual feeding into the main supply pipeline from the Keurbooms River) have not yet been commissioned.
The Desalination Plant, delivering 2 Ml/day, comes on stream again on 1st December and runs until the end of April next year.
The Wadrift off-channel storage dam is still no further forward than it was in December 2017. The geotechnical report on the core drilling at the dam wall, due originally in December 2017 from the Consultants, was finally issued to the Municipality in August 2018, and there it still lies, not having gone to Council yet. Although the Ratepayers Association has been unable to have sight of the report, we understand that it recommends additional core drilling investigation due to the fractured nature of the substrata. As a result, our Engineering department is investigating additional sources to mitigate this delay.
The pipe replacement program for the replacement of old fiber cement water piping is proceeding and is at present being done in the Poortjies area.The Waste Water Treatment Plant is functioning well and with its present capacity will not need upgrading or extending for some years.
South Africa’s infrastructure report card for 2017, which is the last one available scored the South African Roads an overall score of D+. The reasons for this score are poor maintenance, neglect, inadequate management coupled with a skills shortage. Our patch and pray attitude nationally is not going to serve us well in the long term. The deterioration of our road infrastructure results in high business costs which in turn makes goods and services more expensive which impacts on productivity and impacts on the economy negatively.
The Bitou municipality needs to be commended for the excellent work they are doing on the roads despite huge budgetary constraints. The municipality has a vast area that they service.
An extensive pavement management survey has been completed to assess the state of the Plettenberg Bay roads for resurfacing, patching and possibly for complete overhaul. The report has not been made available to date but once this is done a full schedule of works as well as the timeframe for the work will be circulated to our members. You may have noticed yellow and red spray-paint on the road surface, this is part of the pavement manage survey.
Numerous complaints have been received about the congested intersection with Piesang Valley Road. A traffic study has been done and a traffic circle had been proposed. This will be presented to Council as their approval is required for the 2019/2020 budget. As soon as more information becomes available our members will be informed.
Beacon way is open all the way to the N2. The overall work on this project is of a high standard and was long overdue. There have been complaints about the synchronisation of the robot at the Market Square intersection. The technical team from the municipality are attending to this. The Beacon Way/N2 intersection continues to be problematic. A traffic circle was proposed but SANRAL has deemed this option too expensive. Donald Grant, the Provincial Minister of Transport and Public Works has been contacted and he has given an undertaking to engage SANRAL on this issue as well as the proposed Bypass. Donald Grant has indicated that he will try and make the necessary information available before the Ratepayers AGM in December.
The traffic department will deploy points men for the holiday to mitigate congestion in this area.
The streetlight maintenance program has been delayed because the old cherry picker is not operational and needs to be repaired. Delivery of a new cherry picker has been taken but until the paper work is in order it cannot be utilised. Once this has been done the maintenance program will proceed. No exact dates and times are currently available but as soon as the program schedule is received members will be informed.
Once again members are urged to report potholes, damaged or non-existent signage, street lights to the customer care number and to obtain a reference number. The Customer Care number is 044 5013174/5 or 086 124 8686.
Members are also encouraged to keep their pavements neat and to keep the road edges free of vegetation and debris. Vegetation growing out of the road edge damages the road surface. Debris restricting the free flow of storm water also causes damage to the road surface in the long term.
This has been the second year in which progress by the Plett Tourism Association has been diminished by another one-year deal which reduces their ability to build momentum for the medium or long term, attract investment or sponsorships, skills and so on.
The nature of their relationship with the municipality is unresolved, and their tenure will have just over six months to go before once again expiring. In other words, for the third year in succession they are edging towards the possible termination of funding for the Plett Tourism Association – and therefore the termination of their work.
It is hoped that a municipal bylaw will bring a mutually beneficial outcome to both tourism and the municipality. A bylaw committee has been working for some time on an improved version of the document published for comment earlier this year, and the matter is presently with the lawyers representing the Municipality and Plett Tourism.
When last Tourism had sight of the document, it was not clear whether there would be agreement on a defining principle – that Plett Tourism would be the structure designated by the municipality to run tourism and able to operate independently of the ebb and flow of municipal politics and agendas.
The Plett Tourism Association’s media program has continued with commitment and passion, with all legacy media, newsletter, web and social media audiences showing a steady upward curve. The Plett magazine is now a quarterly publication around 4 strategic marketing pillars – summer, wine & food, culture & heritage and adventure & nature. Importantly, it is wholly funded by advertising, and confidence has grown in the magazine, evidenced by the bumper 60-page Plett Summer issue just published.
Plett Tourism has initiated a trade and travel program, structuring travel packages to Plett and forging partnerships with accommodation and other travel stakeholders. The relationship with the RTO and other Garden Route LTOs is good, and joint undertakings to travel shows are making these more affordable. Plett Tourism attended the Getaway Show in Johannesburg, and they are planning to attend WTM in Cape Town, funds permitting. Considerable energy will be focused on this in the coming year.
The Plett Accommodation Association voted subject to certain conditions to integrate into Plett Tourism, a development which s welcomed. The fragmentation of interest groups does nothing but play into the hands of those with less than sincere intentions.
In the meanwhile, and as part of the trade and travel initiative and to meet with objectives outlined by the PAA, Plett Tourism’s website is being made fit-for-transactional-purpose, and already bookings are starting to be made through the site and availability-search functions have been upgraded to better serve the accommodation industry.
Two anchor Plett Tourism events – the Plett Wine & Bubbly Festival and the Plett Arts Festival – face challenging times. Discussions are presently being engaged with the political leadership about funding. An updated report will be presented at our meeting on 13 December.
It is interesting to note that provincial research figures show that 10% of the visitors to the Garden Route are visiting the Plett Winelands, a significant number given it is a relatively new experience on the market. Apart from attracting visitors to Plett, the media exposure afforded by the Plett Wine & Bubbly Festival – for the benefit of Plett – is significant. The measured media value realised during the festival is R6M – it provides great content for many lifestyle blogs, websites and magazines that love the event and carry the story. It has trended on Twitter for 2 years running – i.e. in the top ten most talked about events on twitter on a given day.
Plett Tourism have had reasonable success with their development work in bringing concepts to the table but to date not as much success in their onward development as had been hoped. To this end, an agreement was recently reached with the Deputy Mayor to prepare a schedule and summary of each project so together, how to bring the projects to fruition can be explored. Plett Tourism is also engaging with third parties from outside Plett to source funding.
Plett Tourism presented their conceptual ideas to Minister Derek Hanekom when he was in Plettenberg Bay recently, and the presentation was well received. We urge those interested in Plett’s long term future to have a look at it https://www.plett-tourism.co.za/report-from-minister-of-tourism-derek-hanekoms-visit-to-plett/. Please contact the chairman of Plett Tourism on [email protected] should you require further information or be interested in supporting their work in any way.
A Plettenberg Bay which offers opportunity to all is something which is very much in all our interests.
The closure plans for the landfill site have been approved by the relevant government departments; the necessary financial arrangements have been made by Bitou Municipality, and the tender documents have been prepared. However, final closure cannot continue until the current deposition of green waste stops and a survey undertaken to define the full scope of the closure contract.