SPEECH: An unwavering fight for better services continues

SPEECH: An unwavering fight for better services continues

Greetings to all the residents who have taken the time out to join us tonight as we look back at some of the successes as well as the challenges we continue to face since the previous meeting held in April, earlier this year.

One thing I must stress out is the relentlessness and the unwavering fight residents do put up when requesting services to be delivered by the municipality. It is through this relentlessness which arms me as the councillor to further take your fight to council.

Earlier this year, disaster struck over Easter Weekend during the floods when residents at Renonkel Place were heavily affected by the heavy rains. Since that day, I have engaged immediately with the relevant departments to find out the cause of the damage experienced by the residents over the Easter Weekend.

As reported earlier this year during one of the Digital Public Meetings, it was discovered that one of the major contributors to the disaster was the amount of rain which came down within a short period of time, as well as the ice from the hail which filled the drains. Both these factors were coupled with the fact that the property was found not to have had sufficient storm water management.

It was during the visit with the mayor where the issue was further addressed. I am glad to report back that the interventions we suggested back then with the mayor were supported and have subsequently been implemented.

While we made strides in addressing this issue in particular, we have noted that we do have at certain areas have issues with our storm water drainage systems. This mainly is related to regular cleaning of the systems. Having said, the department did report that they do clear storm water drains when it is not rainy seasons.

As we approach yet another rainy season, one of the things I will be monitoring together with council officials is the state of storm water drains as part of our Service Delivery Wednesdays initiative which we started in July.

Since the start of the Service Delivery Wednesday initiative, it is encouraging to see in how much detail we are able to see the full extent of the issues being raised. Following the first day of this initiative; myself, the ward committee as well as the officials who are providing great support are animated by the work we have started driving in the area.

While in certain instances we have started seeing immediate results, the reality is that we are faced with scenarios which are much more complex for us to deal with. As an example, it has become apparent that the issue relating to the burned bus terminus is a bit more complex than we had imagined.

The complexity at this stage rests squarely on the fact that according to the City Planning Department the property could be council property. In fact, according to Transport Department, the was a lease agreement entered into with Alberton Town Council. The next step for us is to verify this information with the Real Estate Department as to what the status quo may be at this stage.

The reason why it is important to ascertain the ownership of the property is to allow us to know who we need to hold accountable in terms of the state of the building as it is in the current state. It would be a shame if the building stays as it is for years to come as well.

As part of the Service Delivery Wednesday initiative we have also started addressing issues around 8 Pongola Street.

The immediate priority being the cleaning up of the property in an attempt to minimise the influx of vagrants which may in return lead to crime. During this process, it is important to be cognisant of the fact that we are in fact talking about a private property; certain steps need to be taken before moving forward.

Following enquiries sent through to the Department of Environmental Health, the department has confirmed that as the situation stands, a statutory notice has been served on the owners of the property who have failed to remove the health nuisances as instructed.

Council’s Corporate and Legal Services Department will now be requested to assist with possible legal action because no contactors have been appointed to do the required work on behalf of the owners.

Furthermore, one of the reasons why this property is attracting a lot of attention is based on the report from the Alberton Heritage that not only the house but the entire site has been declared a heritage site. This follows findings that this is the first house in Brackendowns before the township was established in this area.

I continue to maintain and be a big advocate of active citizenship in order to realise the desire of having improved services in the ward.

Taking into consideration the historical relevance of the property as well as respecting that the property is privately owned, through the role of the Ward Historian, the Ward Committee has presented a report to council structures and in that report, we have expressed our view that the historical relevance of the property be preserved for future generations to come.

Through the Ward Historian’s report, we have further recommend that the relevant departments investigate the feasibility of council acquiring the property for the benefit of establishing a historical hub in the ward, which will include the history of the area.

Without raising any false hope, let me make it clear that all these steps we are taking they are done in an attempt of finding a workable solution for everyone concerned. As the councillor, I remain committed to both preserving the heritage of the area as well as promoting positive and acceptable development in the area. It is possible for us as society to achieve if we commit ourselves to addressing the issues we are faced with on regularly.

Even with the challenges we continue to face regarding service delivery, it is evident that the introduction of Service Delivery Wednesdays Initiative which is in line with the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) manifesto promise of improving service delivery in various wards.

I continue to maintain and be a big advocate of active citizenship in order to realise the desire of having improved services in the ward. It is for the reason that on Mandela Day, myself as well as members of the community, we took it upon ourselves to show initiative by cleaning up at the Brackenhurst Library on Mandela Day.

Today, I am happy to announce that the clean-up will not be a once off event on Mandela Day. I have decided that in order to improve cleanliness in our area, we will once a month go out to an area which we will identify beforehand on a clean-up campaign.

Beyond our own efforts to keep our public areas clean, I have already started having conversations with the Customer Relations Manager of Alberton on solutions we could implement to ensure that departments also take part in keeping public places such as the clinic and the library clean at all times.

One of the areas which are close to my concerns is an issue relating to safety of residents in the Ward. Crime in the area needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency. As I have always said, while the structure of SAPS does not fall under my jurisdiction as a local government councillor; it has always been my responsibility to care about the well-being of the residents.

It is with this in mind that I have always kept close attention to the support the men and women who are tasked with keeping us safe are given. I have come to learn through the information received from the representative of Community Safety on the Ward Committee that the issue of police reservists being given training for their competency certificates continues to be a great concern.

As part of addressing the issues related to Brackendowns Police Station, we are now fiercely driving the issue of having a permanent station which will operate effectively in order to keep the residents safe at all times.

This is an important aspect that is critical in ensuring the safety of the residents in the ward. Without firearm competencies, there are less people on the streets making sure we are safe. Furthermore, the lack of training on firearm competencies has also affected some SAPS members, meaning officers could lose a battle against crime should they be found to have shot someone without a competency certificate.

In addressing these concerns, I have already started raising the issues to be addressed at provincial and national level respectively.

As part of addressing the issues related to Brackendowns Police Station, we are now fiercely driving the issue of having a permanent station which will operate effectively in order to keep the residents safe at all times.

As we look to fully address service delivery challenges, it is important to address some of the needs that require massive commitment from the municipality. Some of the issues which we continue looking at addressing include the following as per our Integrated Development Plan (IDP) submitted for the 2019/2020 Financial Year.

  1. Water sewer system upgrading project in Brackendowns and Brackenhurst
  2. Resurfacing at the following streets: Palala street
  3. Extension of Brackenhurst clinic yard
  4. Resurfacing at the following streets: Lily street
  5. Request for Early Childhood development centre

As reported earlier this year, the request to upgrade the sewer system in the ward has been under investigation and through council’s efforts, there are pipelines identified at a number of streets in ward which require attention.

While there are clearly problem areas in the ward when it comes to sewer overflow, it must also be emphasised that the next step for me to take is to follow up on the matter of educating the public on taking better care of the sewer system.

This was a need identified following research done to find out the full extent of what is causing sewer overflows in the area. The next step will be for me to find out when the department is due to start on educating the public.

The resurfacing of Palala and Lilly Streets remains one of the concerns which have not been addressed for at least the past four years. This in my view is required rather urgently and as a ward committee, we will be looking at even more closely in the coming months.

When I became a councillor in 2016, one of the core focus areas for me was to ensure that the residents are able to access service delivery through the efforts they put in. Unfortunately, one of the persistent challenges we continue to have is that of an unresponsive call centre.

I am sure you will agree with me when I say besides the accessibility to the call centre, one of the most frustrating things to have to deal with is the unresponsiveness of the call centre in a case of an emergency.

It is important to realise that while the councillors do try their best to update residents especially in the event where there is a power or water outage; this role in theory should be done by the call centre. During a council meeting in May earlier this year, the Executive Mayor, Cllr Mzwandile Masina did confirm when responding to a question that I have asked him, that the outbound SMS service is intended to be used in a case of disruption in service delivery affecting the area.

I am sure you will agree with me when I say besides the accessibility to the call centre, one of the most frustrating things to have to deal with is the unresponsiveness of the call centre in a case of an emergency.

This however, has never been as effective as the mayor claims. While the City of Ekurhuleni fails to deliver a responsive government to the residents; I as the Ward Councillor have partnered with the Brackenhurst and Brackendowns Residents Association in creating platforms where we can be responsive to the residents of the ward. Not only are we able to respond through WhatsApp, our Facebook page has proved to also be effective in that we are able to also host monthly digital meetings to give feedback to the residents.

This as a ward committee we do because at the core of what we do, is the well-being of the residents in the ward; and while challenges are countless, we remain focused and committed in being relentless in our fight for better services.

Thank You!