Sol Plaatje Municipality has called on business owners who operate in the Kimberley central business district to take ownership of the area.
BUSINESS owners who operate in the Kimberley central business district (CBD) should take ownership of their area.
This was the advice given to local businesses during a meeting between Sol Plaatje Municipality and the Northern Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Nocci) at City Hall this week, with the goal of bringing the city’s sparkle back.
Sol Plaatje municipal manager Thapelo Matlala said the municipality is currently looking at various solutions to cleaning up the CBD, which has over the years been plagued by littering and illegal dumping.
“The state of the CBD is a great concern to the municipality. People see the state of the city and accuse the municipality of not doing its job. We have heard the outcry from the local businesses and residents in the CBD about the filth that is visible on our streets daily.
“We need input from local businesses to fight this scourge as they are key stakeholders and will play a vital role in finding solutions to this problem. We need to join hands in getting our city clean,” said Matlala.
The acting head of Cleansing at the municipality, Keith Williams, said that an influx of people to the city had played a major role in the problems currently being experienced in the CBD.
“The CBD is the major commercial hub and there has been a huge shift in the development of the CBD in the small, medium and macro enterprises (SMME) environment. There has been a huge growth in small businesses in the CBD, with each business doing its own thing.
“What is also evident is that there has been a huge influx of people from rural areas and foreign countries. This influx has resulted in an increase in refuse types and the refuse volumes generated in the CBD,” said Williams.
“This challenge now calls on the stringent implementation of the regulations and for the municipality to increase its manpower as well as its resources to root out this problem. The municipality currently has a shortage of personnel that clean the streets in the CBD. We currently have 18 street sweepers and only 17 personnel from the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) as opposed to the 40 EPWP workers we previously had.”
Williams said the municipality is looking at a proposed plan where the CBD will be divided into different refuse collection zones to tackle the problem.
“We have witnessed the incorrect placement of refuse by some businesses on days when there is no refuse collection in that area. The action plan will comprise of dividing the CBD into collection zones. The municipality will allocate personnel to each zone.
“To achieve this, the municipality will increase its number of personnel by an additional 50 EPWP workers who will be assigned to the greening and cleaning project. The required vehicles will also be allocated during collection and cleaning times. The vital part is that businesses will have to adhere to the plan and place their refuse at the dedicated collection points.”
Williams said they will also work in partnership with law enforcement agencies to ensure that everyone abides by the regulations.
“There will be a strict implementation of the by-laws in the CBD. We are in the process of training 25 Peace Officers who will be dispatched to areas in the CBD to ensure that the by-laws are adhered to. We are also working with other stakeholders, such as the Department of Justice, to determine what penalties and punishments will be imposed should someone not adhere to the regulations. Effective and regular communication between the municipality and businesses in the CBD is vital in order for this plan to be a success.”
Williams added that the proposed plan will be implemented by mid-October.
“We need to change the state of the city urgently. It is important that businesses and the municipality join hands in order to see this plan succeed. We have seen many plans and programmes fail because not everyone was on board and did not give their full co-operation during such attempts,” he said.
Local business owners indicated to the council members that some of the problems being experienced in the CBD are as a result of the increase in social challenges in the CBD.
“There is a grave concern over the increase of homeless people and homeless children in the CBD area. The homeless population is at times not only responsible for littering and dirtying the streets, but they are also at times the cause of some infrastructural vandalism as well as some criminal activities in the CBD. The municipality needs to address these challenges too, as this problem cannot solely be laid at the door of local businesses,” they said.
Others said that the municipality needs to act against property owners who rent out cramped spaces to foreign nationals.
“The by-laws need to be implemented urgently. There are many businesses in the CBD that are unhappy about the state of the city. In order for businesses to operate effectively and create jobs, businesses need to make a profit. Customers must have easy access to the businesses. One cannot operate optimally when there is litter strewn at the front door of your business.
“There needs to be a look at the property owners who just want to make money by renting out their buildings and not worrying about their tenants operating inside the buildings and streets. Many businesses may adhere to the regulations but the business may not be compliant. That also needs to be addressed urgently.”
Matlala said the municipality will deal “aggressively” with the challenges communicated.
“If we do not claim back the streets, this problem will continue. We need everyone to play their part in fighting this evil,” he said.