1. Maintenance of Open Areas. The grass open areas and sidewalks in the Longships area of ward 2 have not been cut in months and the grass is a meter high in many places. There are also several places where garden refuse has been illegally dumped.A contract was awarded to Mabala Trading in the amount of R1,094,290 to do the cutting in Ward 2. The municipal cutting has stopped and the work is not being done. We are awaiting a response from our ward councillor whether they have been paid and why the work has stopped.
2. Mayor’s discretionary Grants-in-Aid Fund. We are very disappointed that a Grants-in-Aid report has not been tabled in council as we requested in October. As you know, the Bredell Forensic Report singled out the Mayoral Fund as being riddled with irregularities. We are asking that the mayor’s fund be eliminated from the next budget and an investigation and corrective action be expedited.
3. Plett Airport. VRST, an airport management company, has been hired. A 3-year contract is waiting to be signed, but in the meantime, they are investing in the airport and making good improvements. Aviation fuel is available, with competitive prices, at least until the end of March so this offers an incentive for pilots to use Plett’s airport as a fill-up destination.
4. Water and Power. Water pipe bursts continue to be a problem. Overdue maintenance and failure to replace antiquated cement fiber pipes are resulting in excessive overtime so budget is not available to do the required replacement work. The Electricity Department is out of budget with four months remaining in the financial year. Power outage repairs over the holidays used up budget that should have been used for the purchase of stand-by mini-substations, as well as other infrastructure upgrade items. We are meeting with municipal officials on a regular basis.
5. Waste Management. A Bitou Integrated Waste Management Plan for 2020-25 will be available for public comment in April. We will review it and keep you informed of its content.
6. Overpayment of Municipal Salaries. The Ratepayers’ Association is taking Bitou Municipality and its councillors to court for approving and paying salaries to senior staff far in excess of legislated limits. The court matter is set down for 28 April.
7. Mayoral car. We have a preliminary court hearing to join the councillors personally next month regarding the illegal provision of a mayoral vehicle. Thereafter, we will get a date for the matter itself to be heard. There are rumours that two vehicles may have been acquired for this purpose.
8. Rezoning Scheme. Bitou Municipality is proposing a change to its rezoning by-law to revise and relax building regulations which will raise height restrictions and reduce building boundary restriction lines for Residential Zoned properties. We have strongly opposed it, called for extending the Public Participation period and for more transparency into the by-law changes.
9. Fencing. We have requested information on fencing and other questionable tenders by way of a PAIA (Promotion of Access to Information Act). The fencing information has not yet been provided but we are pursuing it.
10. Ngoqo appeal. We await confirmation that our illegal Municipal Manager has applied for appeal to the Constitutional Court. We will keep you informed of the process. The deadline for an application is 8 March 2021.