Category: Garden Route

GRDM officials excel during 2018 SAIEH

The South African Institute of Environmental Health (SAIEH) in partnership with the Swiss Embassy, South African Local Government Association (SALGA), Department of Agriculture (Veterinary Service) and the City of Cape Town hosted the 21st National Conference in Environmental Health, at the City of Cape Town council chambers from 16-19 November 2018.

The theme of the conference “One Health – An Environmental Health Perspective”, aimed to demonstrate an integrative effort of multiple disciplines working locally, nationally and globally to attain optimal health for people, animals and the environment.

A proud Executive Manager of the GRDM Community Services with his research team and the Portfolio Councillor. Fltr: Ms Maxwelline Fatuse, Mr Gcobani Tshozi, Ms Jessica Erasmus, Ms Heidi Cronje, Ms Sive Mkuta, Mr Clive Africa (Executive Manager), Ms Wandile Magwaza, Mr Lusizo Kwetshube, Cllr Khayalethu Lose (Portfolio Chairperson), Ms Ivy Mamegwa and Ms Emmy Douglas.

The Garden Route District Municipality’s (GRDM) Executive Manager of Community Services, Mr Clive Africa attended the 4 (four) day conference, accompanied by his leading team of professionals within the field of Environmental Health. The GRDM Municipal Health Services (MHS) submitted nominations for the Best Municipality and Best Environmental Health Practitioner (EHP) awards. The Municipal Health App Project has been nominated for this Award. The Municipality has been awarded as one out of three municipalities, with the Best Environmental Health Project.

Since the implementation of the Municipal Health App, the GRDM Environmental Health Practitioners experience a lot of benefits in conducting their daily inspections.  The App assists EHPs to capture information electronically on site, without writing reports afterwards.  This method assists them to do more inspections and be more productive while they are out in the field and interventions can then be executed immediately. This method also enables EHPs to do more inspections and save more lives.

The GRDM resolved and implemented paperless council meeting agendas a few months ago in their effort to go green to save the planet.

Breakdown of inspections by GRDM

2013 – 2014 financial year – 31 351 inspections

2014 – 2015 financial year – 41 367 inspections

2015 – 2016 financial year – 43 122 inspections

2016 – 2017 financial year – 50 893 inspections

2017 – 2018 financial year – 51 986 inspections

Garden Route DM delegates with the awards received during the gala event.

Mr Francois Koelman, an EHP from the GRDM Oudtshoorn office received a trophy for being one of the Best Environmental Health Practitioners in South Africa. This award is also one out of three nominees at a national level.  Mr Koelman was not present during the award ceremony, but his colleagues received this remarkable award on his behalf. “We are very proud of our colleague and would like to congratulate him on this great achievement – hard work definitely pays off.”

The Saturday and Sunday’s jam-packed programme was attended by various intellectuals in the environmental health sector.  The GRDM research team (which was an initiative of the Executive Manager, Mr Africa), Ms Maxwelline Fatuse, Ms Jessica Erasmus, Ms Sive Mkuta, Ms Ivy Mamegwa and Mr Clive Africa presented scientific papers on the following research topics:

  • Adulterated honey in South Africa;
  • the effects of consuming toxic chemicals used in fake alcohol beverages on human health and the community;
  • counterfeit food; and
  • counterfeit medicine.
The GRDM Executive Mayor, Cllr Memory Booysen with the EHPs who delivered presentations on day 2 of the conference.

Ms Emmy Douglas who also acted as research supervisor and project leader, did a sterling job in coaching EHPs in delivering a quality research project and research presentations.

On Monday, a field trip was undertaken by delegates to the Goodwood Disaster Centre and the Swiss Housing project in Khayalitsha.

The last item on the program was the compilation and discussion of resolutions that were taken during the conference. One of the resolutions taken was to approach the National Health Laboratories and discuss their service delivery to the public. The possibility of establishing an accredited laboratory in South Africa, as most of the critical scientific testing can only be done overseas at a very costly price was also raised at the conference. Results for these complex tests also take a long time which could negatively influence the health of our communities.

Public Awareness:  Vector Control

Vector control is an important component of many disease control programmes.  It is a cornerstone of very effective campaigns to control vector-borne diseases. For a number of diseases where there is no effective treatment or cure, such as West Nile Virus and Dengue Fever (not endemic to the Garden Route), vector control remains the only way to protect populations.

Vector control is any method to limit or eradicate the mammals, birds, insects or other blood-feeding arthropods, collectively called vectors, which transmit disease pathogens. Mosquitoes are the best-known invertebrate vector and it transmits a wide range of tropical diseases, including Malaria, Dengue and Yellow fever. Another large group of vectors is flies.

However, even for vector-borne diseases with effective applications, the high cost of treatment remains a huge barrier to a large number of developing countries. Vector-borne diseases are transmitted by the bite of infected arthropod species, such as mosquitoes, ticks, bugs and sand flies. Despite being treatable, malaria, which is transmitted by mosquitos in Africa, has by far the greatest impact on human health. A child in Africa dies of malaria every minute, although vector control measures that have been in effect since 2000, reduced fatalities with 50%.

As the impact of diseases and viruses are devastating, the need to control the vectors in which the disease or viruses are carried, continues to be prioritised. Vector control in many developing countries can have tremendous effects on mortality rates, especially among infants. The high movement of populations causes  diseases to spread rapidly – the Garden Route District cannot be excluded from this migration trend.

Control measures:

  1. Remove or reduce areas where vectors can easily breed. This will limit their growth, for example, the removal of stagnant water, riddance of old tyres and cans that serves as mosquito breeding environments.
  2. Limit exposure to insects or animals that are known disease vectors can reduce infection risks significantly, for example, window screens or protective clothes can help reduce the likelihood of contact with vectors.
  3. Chemical control by using insecticides, rodenticides or repellents to control vectors.
  4. Biological control, the use of natural vector predators such as bacterial toxins or botanical compounds can help control vector populations, for example, using of fish that eat the mosquito larvae.

Prevent vectors by wearing light coloured, long sleeved shirts and long pants, tucked into socks or boots. Use repellent on exposed skin and clothing, to protect yourself from being bitten by mosquitos, sand flies or ticks. Simple hygiene measures can reduce or prevent the spread of many diseases.

Avoid vector-borne diseases:

  1. Before travelling, vaccinate against diseases prevalent at your destination for example, Yellow fever. Antimalarial medicines is also available.
  2. Use window screens to control mosquitoes.
  3. Sleep under an insecticide-treated bed net, if in a place or area with a malaria risk.
  4. Check your body regularly for ticks. If you find one, remove it with a tweezers and apply a skin disinfectant. In a tick- infested area, check your clothing, luggage and other belongings.
  5. Avoid contact with blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people or animals.
  6. Make sure to keep strict hygiene control of food and avoid unpasteurised dairy products in areas where tick-borne diseases are prevalent.
  7. If bitten and did receive treatment abroad, please remember to complete your treatment course at home.
  8. If you become ill upon your return, tell your doctor where you have been, as you may have brought a disease back with you.
  9. Child care facilities should treat their sandpits with salt on a regular basis to prevent vectors.

Awareness:  Rabies

What is Rabies

Rabies is a contagious and deadly viral disease, causing damage to the brain and the spinal cord. It affects both humans and animals, and in most cases, results in death once the disease symptoms develop.

How is Rabies spread?

The rabies virus is found in the saliva and nervous tissue of infected animals. It is transmitted to humans and other animals through contact with the saliva or tissue of an infected animals; bites, scratches, licks on broken skin and mucous membranes. Once the symptoms of the disease develop, rabies becomes fatal to both humans and animals.

What are the symptoms of rabies in humans?

Rabies symptoms may occur as early as one week and as late as several years after contact with, or bite from an infected animal. Seek treatment immediately after animal bite. Do not wait for symptoms to develop.

The symptoms in humans include:

  • headache and fever;
  • irritability, restlessness and anxiety;
  • muscle pains, malaise, hydrophobia (fear of water) and vomiting;
  • hoarse voice;
  • paralysis;
  • mental disorder;
  • profuse salivation; and
  • difficulty swallowing.

What to do following a bite or contact with a suspected rabid animal?

If been bitten or had contact with a dog or stray animal, a pet or farm animal that is behaving strangely (wild animal becomes friendly or domestic animal became wild), please follow the following steps:-

  • Wash the wound with clean water and soap immediately for at least ten minutes;
  • Apply an antiseptic ethanol or iodine;
  • Immediately consult a doctor for treatment and advice; and
  • Contact your nearest state veterinarian, clinic or doctor.

When should you suspect that an animal is infected with rabies?

Suspect that an animal is infected with rabies when it shows behavioural changes such as restlessness, irritability, excitability and shyness.

How do animals become infected?

Wild and domestic animals can become infected by:

  • When bitten by an infected animal;
  • A fight between a pet and an unknown or stray animal; and
  • A domestic animal with injuries of unknown origin.

How is rabies controlled?

  • Immediately isolate the suspected animal and inform your State Veterinarian.
  • Have your dogs and cats vaccinated regularly (all pets three months or older must be vaccinated).
  • Do not allow your pets to roam the streets.
  • Rabies is a dangerous infection. Do not handle suspected animals.
  • Report all suspected rabies cases to your nearest state veterinarian, animal health technician or to the police.

What animals most often implicated in rabies transmission?

Domestic- dogs, cats, sheep, goats, horses, donkeys, pigs, guinea pigs,

Wild- mongoose, suricate mongoose, civet, small spotted genet, caracal, serval, lion, African wildcat, small-spotted cat, felid species, honey badger, striped polecat, striped weasel, black-backed jackal, bat-eared fox, wild dog, cape fox, aardwolf, brown hyena, ground squirrel, tree squirrel, greater cane cat, cape hyrax, Chakma baboon, warthog, impala, duiker, steenbok, kudu, eland, blesbok, bushbuck, reedbuck, springbuck, burchell’s zebra, herbivore species and scrub hare.

Contact details of the State Veterinarian in our district: Tel 044 8735527

Awareness: Interventions by EHPs of the Garden Route District Municipality in prevention of the Cholera

Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs) fulfil their responsibilities by working in accordance to the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa and the National Health Act.  In conducting their day-to-day tasks, EHPs are responsible to render services in line with the nine (9) key performances areas of Municipal Health Services, which include: water quality monitoring, food safety management, waste management, health surveillance of premises, surveillance and prevention of communicable diseases, environmental pollution control, disposal of dead, chemical safety and vector control.

In the execution of the abovementioned and in ensuring that communities have the opportunity to live in an environment that is not harmful to their health and/or environment, the EHPs of the Garden Route District Municipality constantly perform Moore pad sampling in a quest to prevent the outbreak of the Cholera disease.  Through this ongoing monitoring and assessments, these officials play a major role in the prevention of disease outbreak or sudden environmental health threats.

EHP, Ms Nokuphiwa Mbali, putting “Moore Pad” sample at Piesang River; one of the sampling points of Garden Route District Municipality.

What is Cholera?

Cholera is an endemic disease, and the Vibrio Cholera bacteria is often found in the aquatic environment, where it can remain dormant for long periods of time as part of the normal flora of brackish water and river estuaries.  It flares up under favourable conditions associated with algae blooms (plankton), which is influenced by the temperature of the water.  Infected humans, who are temporary carriers, are one of the main reservoirs of the pathogenic form of Vibrio cholerae. Cholera is spread, as most other viral and bacterial diarrhoeal diseases, by contaminated water and food, i.e. the faecal-oral route.  The ever-present role of flies and other vectors in the faecal-oral route must be kept in mind. Cholera is rarely transmitted by direct person-to-person contact.

Critical factors which influence the spreading of cholera

There are three main factors that are critical in their influence on the epidemic spreading of cholera, namely:

  • lack of access to medical treatment facilities;
  • lack of access to safe water supply and sanitation services; and
  • socio-economic living conditions.

The process of “Moore pad” sampling

Place sterile surgical gauze swab tied with a length of 1 meter string into the flowing river or sewage so that the pad hangs below the surface of the water. This pad should remain in place for 72 hours, after which it should be pulled out, into a pre-prepared sterile bottle containing double strength alkaline peptone water.  The labeled specimens must be sent to the laboratory at room temperature for analysis.

The sampling rate is higher during season periods where water from the rivers and the lagoon are running into the ocean.  Vibrio cholera bacteria is often found in the aquatic environment where it can remain dormant for long periods as part of the normal flora of salt water.

Tourists welcome in George, Wilderness and Uniondale

The George, Wilderness and Uniondale Tourism Offices confirm and assures business travellers and tourists that we are open for business.  Communities along the Garden Route have been affected by devastating wildfires, but the situation is under control and service delivery has not been affected.

Our towns are fully functional and ready to assist with tour groups and visitors to the areas.  The George Airport is operational, and all the major roads including  the N2, Montagu Pass, Outeniqua Pass and N9 from George to Uniondale are open.

For more information about things to do in the area, please contact our Tourism Offices:

George Tourism                   044 801 9295

Wilderness Tourism            044 877 0045

Uniondale Tourism              044 752 1076

For official updates about the recent wildfires in the region, visit the following page: www.facebook.com/gardenroutedm or www.facebook.com/george.municipality

Press Release issued by George Municipality

Photograph Credit: Cloudbase Paragliding.

No hiking or feeding of Wildlife allowed after fires in the Garden Route

Media Release – urgent notice
Issued by CapeNature

02 November 2018

Due to the recent fires in the Garden Route, CapeNature is requesting that communities living adjacent to the burnt areas support the recovery of wildlife by monitoring the condition of species and to report any injured animals to CapeNature as soon as possible. It would be very helpful if the following information can be provided to CapeNature when an injured animal is found:

– Exact locality of where the injured animal has been found/spotted (GPS position if possible)

– Correct species identification (as far as possible)

– Brief description of the injuries to the animal

– If possible photographic evidence or video footage should be taken so that the correct information is made available to the Official for the most appropriate treatment.

Do not approach an injured animal or put yourself in any danger, the public can rather contact the CapeNature George Regional Office (044) 802 5300 for any wild animals found or the Outeniqua Nature Reserve on 087 087 4151 if animals are found inside Outeniqua Nature Reserve.

No feeding of wild animals

The residential areas that border the Outeniqua mountains have experienced human-wildlife conflict for many years (especially with baboons) and therefore CapeNature is not supportive of placing out feeding stations as this will enhance conflict situations in the future.

A habitat assessment will be undertaken to determine the availability of remaining habitat for wildlife as soon as the Garden Route District Disaster Management has given clearance to CapeNature to enter the burnt areas. At this stage the area is still ‘a no go zone’ due to areas still smouldering and deep hot ash.

Wild animals will naturally move to alternative habitat if there is available habitat, by feeding wild animals you are firstly keeping them from a natural evacuation of the area and secondly make them dependent on feeding stations. As soon as the habitat assessment is completed, the situation will be reassessed.

Help by assessing and reporting – not feeding!

It is therefore advisable that the condition of wildlife be monitored rather than fed by the public. We should support wildlife by allowing corridors in order to allow them to move freely, driving carefully along public roads, and ensuring that our pets do not get the opportunity to chase wildlife that graze/browse closer to residential areas.

Please drive carefully, road verges also provide food for wildlife such as small antelope and primate species as these areas are often intact and are good for grazing/browsing and will be feeding close to the road.

Please stay out of natural areas – no hiking

We ask that the public refrain from accessing any natural areas in the George/Knysna region where there are still active or smouldering fire lines. These areas continue to have a high fire danger risk so please help us keep everyone safe!

Issued by CapeNature

Severe Weather Alerts issued by the Cape Town Weather Office

Hazard: Damaging Winds

Alert Level: Warning

Valid from (SAST): 29/10/18, 01h00 – Valid to (SAST): 30/10/18, 11h00

WARNING: Gale force W/SW winds of 65-75km/h is expected along the coast between Hermanus and Plettenberg Bay tonight (Monday), into tomorrow (Tuesday) morning.

ADVISORY: Strong interior winds (50-65km/h) are expected over the Matzikama Municipality, Breede River Valley, Central and Little Karoo today (Monday), into early tomorrow (Tuesday) morning.

Description: Strong damaging winds
Strong damaging winds often occur along coastal regions, but also often occur during thunderstorm activity. These winds are sudden and can cause much damage.

Precautions:  Strong damaging winds
Stay indoors where possible away from the windows that open towards the severe winds. Be aware of the following: – sudden cross winds if traveling especially between buildings, fallen trees or power lines and flying debris.
Small boats must stay away from the open sea and seek the shelter of a harbour, river estuary or protected bay.
Parked aircraft should be pointed into the direction of the wind and secured.  Listen to the radio or TV for warnings and obey the instructions from the Disaster Management Officers.

Description: Storm surges / High Seas

Generally heavy seas or damaging waves are a result of strong winds blowing over a large area called a fetch combined with low pressure systems. Long period swells are often very dangerous to tankers as they may literally snap them in half. Dangerous waves or surges may also be caused by storm surges and tsunami’s resulting in widespread coastal damage and loss of life.

In oceanography, a sea state is the general condition of the free surface on a large body of water—with respect to wind waves and swell—at a certain location and moment. A sea state is characterized by statistics, including the wave height, period, and power spectrum. The sea state varies with time, as the wind conditions or swell conditions change.

Precautions: Storm surges / High Seas

Ships should “idle” into the swell and wind so that the bow of the ship always faces the oncoming swell. If in a small sailing vessel reduce the sail area and steer into the oncoming swell. If along the shore-line stay well back from the highest high water mark as Secure all hatches, doors, windows and ports. Secure all loose items in the interior.

Pump the bilge’s dry and keep pumping them dry at regular intervals. Stow away all loose gear and lash down any large items that cannot be stowed. Break out your life preservers and inform your crew that everyone will be putting them on well in advance of their necessity.

Break out emergency gear like flares and first aid kit, sea anchor, safety harnesses, etc.  Check your position and update your course as plotted on your chart. Prepare alternative routes to more protected areas. If you think you will be in for relatively long haul prepare some hot soup, coffee or stew freak waves may run up beyond the normal high water mark.

If the sea recedes exposing rock and sea bed normally not exposed immediately seek higher ground at least 50m above your current position. Do not try swimming or fishing or other marine recreation during these events. Only extremely experienced surfers will temp their fate under these conditions.

Listen to the radio or TV for warnings and obey the instructions from Disaster Management Officers.

Fires in the Garden Route

Since the end of October 2018, various wildfires started raging through the Garden Route District. The Joint Operations Centre (JOC) has, because of this, been activated. Coordination of firefighting resources and all logistical arrangements are dealt with by the Garden Route DM JOC.

The municipality’s website will be changed from green to orange while the JOC is activated.

For official information about wildfires in the Garden Route, follow our Facebook page: www.fb.com/gardenroutedm

The Emergency Communications Centre can be contacted at 044 805 5071.

Informal Food Traders from Mossel Bay receive training

 

The informal food trading sector in South Africa has a positive impact on micro businesses which contributes to job creation, poverty alleviation and establishment of breadwinners in communities.   The sector plays a critical role in food security, facilitating access to food by poor people living in urban areas and has the potential to expand the economic viability of the region.

To address the Key Performance Areas set for Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs), the EHPs of the Garden Route District Municipality’s (GRDM) Mossel Bay office, facilitated an awareness training session, focusing on informal food traders selling offal on 3 October 2018, at the Asla Park Community Hall.   The aim of this type of training is to educate traders on basic food hygiene practices, as outlined in legislation and also to ensure that food being consumed does not pose health risks. The importance of safe, hygienic food handling and selling in the prevention of food poisoning outbreaks, are always emphasized during these events.

The thirteen Informal Food Traders from KwaNonqaba and Asla Park in Mossel Bay, after the training session conducted by the GRDM Environmental Health Practitioners, Mr Lukanyo Mafuduka (left) and Ms Neo-Lay Britz (right).

Fifteen Informal Food Traders from Mossel Bay attended the session. The following aspects were covered during the training:

  • registration of food stalls
  • food safety
  • food poisoning
  • how does one contract food poisoning
  • signs and symptoms of food poisoning
  • five keys to safer food, which entail:
  • keeping clean;
  • separating raw food from cooked food;
  • cooking food thoroughly;
  • keeping food at safe temperatures; and
  • using safe water and safe raw material.

Subsequently to the training session, interviews were conducted with participants who indicated that the training was significant. The session also confirmed that they were not familiar with some of the opportunities in Mossel Bay, and how it could benefit them. Attendees also indicated that they would appreciate if more training could be rolled out to them. Incentives such as cooler boxes, storage containers, meat trays, hairnets and aprons, were given to all the participants who attended the training

More training sessions will be conducted by the GRDM Environmental Health Practitioners throughout the year to ensure that safety and hygiene standards are met in order to protect the public.

Building Smart Cities in a Smart Region

The concept of Smart Cities is gaining momentum in the Garden Route region and to unfold this theory, the Planning and Economic Department of the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM), in collaboration with the South Cape Economic Partnership (SCEP), hosted a Smart City – Smart Region Summit on Wednesday, 3 October 2018 in Bitou (Plettenberg Bay).  Representatives from all the municipalities in the Garden Route, in particularly, Local Economic Development, Tourism;  Infrastructure;  Waste Management;  Planning and ICT Specialists, as well as Private Sector Smart City experts; Town Planners; Technology experts and Tertiary Institutions Subject Specialists, attended the one-day event.

Councillor Peter Lobese, Executive Mayor of the Bitou Municipality welcomed all summit attendees and expressed his appreciation towards the GRDM for organising the Summit for the region.

During the workshop, very exciting and informative presentations were done by Subject Specialists, i.e. Dr Warren Burns from Brilliance;  Dr Nancy Odendaal from the University of Cape Town;  Ms Emiley Vollmer from ISC Bank and Mr Josiah Lodi from the Western Cape Department of Cooperative Governance.

Guided by the experts in attendance, municipalities of the region worked on defining what the concept Smart Cities means for them, and how best to maximise the benefits of smart thinking, to build a Smart Region.

One of the breakaway sessions during the summit with the facilitators, Mr Paul Hoffman (far left) from the SCEP and Ms Rushka Ely (right) from the Western Cape Economic Development Partnership, Cape Town.

The afternoon’s programme was divided into two (2) sets of three (3) breakaway sessions, under the following topics:

First Session:  Smart living, Smart Waste Management and Smart Technology; and

Second Session: Smart Green, Smart Design and Smart Tourism

Some outcomes of the sessions include:

 Smart Living:

  • A pilot project in one community in the region to demonstrate all the 7 principles of “Smart Living”;
  • Increase density, accessible public transport and making the region cycle-friendly;
  • Develop a network of small-scale organic agriculture to supply local restaurants and retailers;
  • Integrated efforts for safety and security by the police, neighbourhood watches and private security companies;
  • Invite businesses to provide innovative solutions through existing forums to current smart living challenges; and
  • Spatial development for poor communities which will allow activities like gardening, etc.

Smart Waste

  • Regional programme for sensitizing residents and incentives for recycling;
  • Continue with the integrated approach between municipalities for alternative technologies; and
  • Waste-to-energy initiatives.

Smart Technology

  • An audit needs to be done on what exists that could be expanded or developed further;
  • Wayleave and trenching policies to be put in place; and
  • Coordination in terms of free Wi-Fi to be coordinated by die district- and local municipalities.

Smart Green

  • Lack of skills within municipalities to interrogate green solutions. Will be addressed through Green Cape Municipal Capacity Building Initiatives;
  • Interrogate current policy to create a more conducive/enabling environment; and
  • Inter-governmental approach to green solutions.

 Smart Design

  • Ensuring values, visions and policies that underpin smart city design, are in place;
  • Increase the focus on GIS skills and resources for smart cities;
  • Integration of data collection and maintenance processes and systems; and
  • Data access protocols that enable access across municipalities.

Smart Tourism

  • Wi-fi hotspots;
  • Regional public transport e.g. Uber;
  • Data collection and analytics for smart tourism; and
  • Smart training for the hospitality and tourism industry.
The organising team behind the successful and well-attend Smart Cities – Smart Region Summit. Fltr, Mr Denver Johnson, Tourism Officer, Mr Paul Hoffman, Project Manager of SCEP, Ms Melanie Wilson, Manager: Economic Development and Tourism, Ms Natalie Raubenheimer, Senior Economic Development Officer, Ms Amagene Koeberg, Co-ordinator: Garden Route and Klein Karoo Tourism, Ms Raylene Meyer, Administrative Officer: Garden Route and Klein Karoo Tourism, Ms Nadia Boumeester, Administrative Assistant: Economic Development and Mr Lusanda Menze, GRDM Executive Manager: Planning and Economic Development.

In his concluding remarks, the Municipal Manager of the GRDM, Mr Monde Stratu, expressed his appreciation to everyone who participated and who are willing to take the process forward in partnership with the Garden Route District Municipality.  “Let us adopt a vision to do things differently, collaborate and try to work together as a family of municipalities in building a smart region,” said Mr Stratu.