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Sol hampers city’s growth

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Several applications for alienations were once again included on the agenda.

MEET: Ousted Sol Plaatje executive mayor Mangaliso Matika spoke yesterday morning about the special council meeting that was held on Wednesday.

IN THE last financial year, the Sol Plaatje Municipality sold a total of five municipal-owned properties in Kimberley.

Three of the properties were lanes and were sold for R2 each. One property (erf 44062) was sold for R2.2 million, while the other property sold was in Galeshewe.

While several applications for alienations are received on a monthly basis, these are repeatedly sent back without any decisions being taken, sometimes for years on end.

In the last Spelum Committee meeting, which like all other council committee meetings has been postponed this month following the court order against the executive mayor, Mangaliso Matika, several applications for alienations were once again included on the agenda.

One application for the purchase of plots in McKenna Lane for the development of houses, was originally received by the municipality in May 2015. Another one for property in Pescodia for the establishment of a business, also dates back more than three years ago.

One application for a site between Mondile Street and Strange Nkosi Street dates back to 2006. In a letter from the developer to the municipality, which is dated September 2015, the applicant points out that he applied for the site in 2006 and 2008. “We received a letter that stated that we can build but later we received another letter that we must not build,” the applicant points out in his letter.

“Building materials were bought and we are afraid that it is getting damaged and rusted. We already forfeited R500 000 from our sponsors for the first stage of the building last year. They have only given us this year to build so it will also be forfeited.”

The application was for a church for the community that could also have been used as a one-stop centre and a crèche. The ground was valued in 2015 at R1.2 million.

An application by a city resident to purchase the alley behind his house to improve security is still on the agenda after five years. The original application was received in 2013.

Another item that has repeatedly been on the agenda of the Spelum Committee for almost 10 years is that of the old DFA building.

A notice of motion to evict the tenant from the building will be heard in the Northern Cape High Court later this month.

Rental

An application to lease the building for the purposes of operating a nightclub/sportsman’s bar was originally received by the municipality in 2009. The matter was debated backwards and forwards for years on end, without a lease agreement ever being signed or a monthly rental stipulated by the municipality.

It is estimated that there is currently a total rental liability on the building of R450 000 based on a proposed retail of R5 000 from December 1 2009 till June 30 2017 (90 months).

The future use of the building has still not been determined.

Last year, nine employees in the town planning department of the municipality were suspended and two private companies were appointed for a period of 12 months, from April 2017 to April this year at a total cost of around R1.4 million, to ensure continuity in the section.

It was pointed out at the time that the companies appointed would also assist in the technical capacitation for the processing of building plans.

Municipal spokesperson, Sello Matsie, said yesterday that of the nine employees in the town planning section who were suspended, three were dismissed and three were given written warnings. “One case is still pending, while two employees passed away.”

He also confirmed that the municipality was still making use of the two private companies at the pre-agreed cost in terms of the agreement of R130 000 a month.

“The municipality receives an average of around 100 applications for alienations a year.”

He added that around 75% of the current applications were in the process of being attended to, while the remainder had been submitted to the committee for approval or disapproval.

“This includes applications for the leasing of municipal-owned ground as well as the purchasing of land and rezoning.”

Matsie stated further that the reason for the few applications processed last year could be attributed to the staffing issues in the specific department. “There was a backlog which we are dealing with currently.”

The spokesperson pointed out further that the number of applications for the acquisition of municipal land had increased following the growth of the city.