Many thanks to you all for attending this meeting, I trust you enjoyed the talk and found it interesting and beneficial. Seated amongst you are our Committee Members; they are Carmen Brunette (Secretary), Birgit Kaiser (Treasurer), Malcolm Chadbourne (Vice Chairman), Billy Archary (Stockville representative), Francois Zinserling (Newsletter Editor), Richard Hancox (Environment) and David Ferguson; also present is none other than Rick Crouch (Ward 10 Councillor).
A major problem we have had this past year is, of course, load shedding. eThekwini’s schedule in the main has been accurate although an area of Kloof behind the Maytime Centre falls under Block 8 for outages, not Block 4. Also other areas of Kloof in the Abelia Road region appear to be now experiencing Block 11 outage times. When I inquired about this I was told a transformer in that area had broken down therefore the power had to be supplied from a Pinetown sub-station. This Block 11 is rather a strange one for the main area it covers is down there in Amanzimtoti yet it has 2 separate enclaves; one includes Fields Hill, Manors, Pinetown West and the other the Congella region. Looking at a map produced by Metro Electricity it has basically divided Durban and suburbs into Residential, Commercial and Industrial Blocks with the result Residential and Commercial Blocks bear the brunt of load shedding, namely Stages 1 and 2 whilst Industrial ones experience none at all until Stage 3 is reached.
We have been informed the change of rules requiring all beneficiaries to apply for the R105000 Rate Rebate decided upon by Council will come into effect next year when all ratepayers will have to apply for this. This will put a considerable strain on the Rates offices for we all will have to go along there in order to claim these rebates whilst what are the elderly, infirm and disabled going to do?
According to the Property Rates Act a Municipality has to carry out a valuation of all properties within its boundaries at 4 yearly intervals; this was last carried out by eThekwini in 2011, the results becoming valid in 2012. I checked with the Real Estate Head to see if valuations would be carried out this year and was informed eThekwini Municipality made application for an extension as per legislation for a further year which was granted by the MEC. Valuations will now likely be carried out around July next year.
In the Mercury I saw a Public Notice regarding the 2016/2017 Draft rates Policy which I have downloaded and am busy analysing in order to let you know what to look out for. This is open for comments until 31st January 2016 so I am busy examining it in order to ask as many as possible to remark on it.
Stockville Road upgrade:
Delays in the Stage 3 project have been caused mainly by new legislation such as the Water Use Licence Act and the fact an Occupational Health and Safety Officer has now to be appointed. Negotiations have been made with eThekwini Traffic Authorities to allow the Road Traffic Management Plan to be used, now it is hoped to commence operations in October of this year during the school holiday break.
Ward 10 Boundaries:
Councillor Crouch has informed me he received a draft copy of the Ward Demarcation results, the enjoyable news being that Ward 10 boundaries remain as before. Thus we can pat ourselves on the back as a large number of residents protested against the proposed amendments, thanks to the efforts of Rick and other DA members. One word of warning is that this being only a draft copy there is a chance some ANC Councillors may appeal against the decision.
There was a letter to the Editor in the Mercury from a Durban resident who obviously had the same opinion of the present City Manager as I have. This is leading to the fact our Municipality is heading on a downhill path since Dr Sutcliffe was replaced by Mr Sithole who obviously cannot manage the workload of a City Manager so much so he has arranged for 2 Deputy Managers at R1.7 million year salaries to be appointed! Now we are battling with the Town Planning centre here up in the Outer West for a number of the wrong type of persons have been appointed to quite senior positions there; they seem to have a culture which says why work at all when you’ll be paid anyway and, in this country, that type of individual is not going to be disciplined!
This year was the worst I can remember due to the lack of response from eThekwini, in particular the Land Use Management, once known as Town Planning, out here in the Outer West. We took it upon our Association to report items such a s illegal businesses and also to forward comments when rezoning adverts were either placed in The Mercury or brought to our attention by local residents. Normally when the former things are reported a Senior Technical Planner is given the authority to deal with it but last year the 2 or 3 persons in this position did nothing at first. Time and time again I e-mailed then, called then and even obtained photos of the problem which were forwarded but nothing significant was carried out. Eventually I became so disappointed that I forwarded a complaint to the Municipal Head of this Department yet received no reply!
A couple of eThekwini’s administration Departments do give good service delivery, being Revenue, and Metro Water. eThekwini’s website, http://www.durban.gov.za/Pages/default.aspx, has the following to say: “It consists of a diverse society which faces various social, economic, environmental and governance challenges. As a result, it strives to address these challenges which mean meeting the needs of an ever increasing population.” It also claims that by 2020 the Municipality will enjoy the reputation of being Africa’s most liveable and caring City.
Finally I have to inform you I am resigning the Chairmanship at our January meeting but intend staying on the committee in order to keep you all updated on crime issues and also the Rates and Tariffs for the next financial year.
Chairman – COWRA