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OPINION: Fixed from top to bottom

File picture: Matthews Baloyi

I took a trip in and around Kimberley to see how the city that’s celebrating a big birthday soon is shaping up., writes Lance Fredericks

I HAVE always been a hard, unforgiving person. I know how to hold a grudge. In fact, the day I was born, someone slapped my bottom and it made me cry out in pain. I was so upset at this unexpected and unfair assault, that I refused to speak for another 18 months.

I think that slap could also be the reason that I have trust issues. That doctor that beat me needed to restudy the Hippocratic Oath, or read Steven Covey’s tips on winning friends. That’s not how you treat a new resident to your city.

Wait, so while we are not on the subject of a new city … have you noticed how things are slowly but steadily being ironed out, filled in and pulled straight?

This past week, I felt the travel bug biting again. However, with a fuel tank running on fumes and still waiting for the promised drop in the fuel price – that didn’t happen in the end – I couldn’t hit the long road out of the city.

So I took a trip in and around Kimberley to see how the city that’s celebrating a big birthday soon is shaping up.

And it wasn’t bad at all.

For instance, I was in awe of how things had been sorted out at the municipal dump. In the past the veld was completely littered with plastic bags, cartons, papers … you name it, it was in trees, on the ground and snagged on bushes. But I didn’t see much of that at all the other day.

I was impressed.

Then there are work crews patching our roads in town. To me it’s much more convenient to drive around repair crews waving red flags and dodge orange traffic cones than having to duck around potholes all the time.

Truth be told, there was a point in the last few years when I actually believed that I would forget how to drive in a straight line.

Some roads are repaired and others are so repaired that they even have the lanes repainted, and boy, what a difference THAT makes!

The city is starting to sparkle again.

Don’t get me wrong. As much as I was impressed at how much has been done, I am not blind to the fact that there is a long, long, terribly long way still to go.

For one thing, the city has far too many unpainted speed humps. Those hazard hills are a menace! Yes, it can be argued that you should not be hitting them at 40 or 60km per hour anyway as you should be slowing down in residential areas and around schools, but I just think that if you are going to plant them, you might as well maintain them.

Even more horrifying was when my drive took me through the neighbourhood where I grew up.

Homevale is falling apart! I only took a drive down Third Street, the township’s main road, and my heart sank.

Not only did Third Street have unpainted speed humps, it was riddled with deep, wide, jagged potholes. Water was running down and damming in the street – what water, I wondered because it hadn’t rained in ages!

I was stunned. My travel itch stopped immediately and I went straight home.

However, my ride took me through Colville and that lifted my spirits again. It was almost 1pm and people were walking around the streets in their pyjamas and dressing gowns.

Say what you will about people in the street in their beddy best, to me it says that they feel at home in their neighbourhood and they are comfortable with the people around them – everyone around them.

And THAT is the Kimberley I remember as a child. We were comfortable with our neighbours. We felt free, safe and secure.

So while infrastructure is being repaired and orange cones and red flags dot the streets – hopefully the repairs will reach the furthest parts of the city before long – I believe it’s our duty to get back to the nice people we once were.

What if, as the repairs flow into our broken suburbs, the wholeness of the people in these suburbs at the same time creeps out into the city?

Were that to happen, our city will really be fixed, and no one will have the need to hold a grudge because they felt that they have been “slapped” unfairly.

After all, a sparkling city would be on a downward trend anyway, if the people in it don’t shine.

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