Update on various issues

Dear Members,

The Plett Ratepayers’ EXCO has been busy on your behalf. The following are some brief updates:

Intersection of Beacon Way on to the N2. We attended a meeting with SANRAL on 9 October where they announced that a contract would be awarded in two weeks for the construction of a traffic island to ease congestion at the Beacon Way intersection with the N2. The site establishment will start in January 2024. Construction is scheduled for March, with completion scheduled for October 2024, including a circle and lane-dividing curbs, and a through-traffic lane on the N2 East.

IDP (Integrated Development Plan.) The IDP is a list of needs/wants, per ward, which helps to form next year’s budget. The RA contributes input every year. Although everything on last year’s list was not completed, the municipality has addressed some of the items, and where items were not completed, financial constraints accounted for part of the delay or they are part of long-term plans. For example, replacement of fibre cement pipes, which accounts for substantial water leakage, includes 150 kms of such pipes and the replacement would cost some R300m – hence it was a long-term plan that the municipality are tackling progressively over the years. This year we also stressed the need for bulk water supply augmentation (with an expanding population and possible future drought, regular water supplies will rely on increased water supply/storage), alternative power, and an appropriate business development policy for Bitou. The RA also requested adequate budget for roads, functioning street lights, wastewater upgrade, beach upgrade, Ward 2 sports facility upgrade, and clean-up and painting of municipal buildings. The next budget will be presented in March. We will send you the final IDP submission shortly.

Garden Route Ratepayers’ Alliance. The Plett Ratepayers’ Association has led the formation of a Garden Route RPA Alliance, consisting of 22 RPAs within Plett, Knysna, George and Mossel Bay clusters. Our towns are faced with similar, if not identical issues and we need to open channels of communication in order to share experiences, knowledge, best practices and solutions. It will also allow the Alliance to present a united front when having to deal with government at the district, provincial and national levels.

Erf 156 Signal Hill demolition. A court order was issued seven years ago for the demolition of the structure below Signal Hill, but one excuse follows another. We are putting pressure on the municipality, and we are informed that demolition will happen in the first half of 2024.

Airport status. The tenders for an airport management company were extended to 20 October. We remain hopeful that a successful or preferred bidder will be announced shortly thereafter and that a decision will be made before year end.

Update on PAIAs (requests for information). Two of our PAIAs requesting 1) information on Isolomzi Security who has had the contract to protect municipal assets since 2005, and 2) for copies of the agreements for Erf 1725A and Erf 256 which the municipality wants to rezone from public open space to commercial or residential, have been unanswered, so we will be going to Magistrate’s Court on 27 October for a court order. We have been told the municipality will provide the information on these and two other PAIAs in process, which would be a welcome shift in cooperation and transparency.

Refuse Removal. Letters of concern, together with an analysis of the issues, have been sent to council and the administration about the disastrous state of the waste department. We have repeatedly asked for an action plan to fix it, particularly since the upcoming season will put even more strain on the service. The cost of truck breakdowns and buildup of waste due to an inability to transport waste to the landfill site is prohibitive. We understand that a recycling contract will be awarded shortly, and that new vehicles and equipment have been included in the budget and have been ordered, with some items already procured, which will go some way to improving the situation.

Meeting with mayor and MM. The RA has a long overdue meeting scheduled on 24 October with the mayor and MM to talk through various issues and solutions, and will update you on the outcome. We remain committed to ongoing and constructive engagement with the municipality, but responsiveness and transparency remain key hurdles.

Kind regards,

Steve Pattinson