Category: <span>Local Government News</span>

Media Statement: Municipal communicators make shocking discoveries at illegal dump site

Media Statement
For Immediate Release
8 October 2020

Municipal communicators make shocking discoveries at illegal dump site

Municipal communicators from Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) recently visited an illegal dump site in Pacaltsdorp to photograph the progress made by contractors tasked to clean sites. With shock, communicators noted a countless number of items, including toxic, sharp and dangerous ones, as well as foul smelling water – leaving one communicator almost vomiting from the stench. “The scariest part is that there were kids playing in the same area, metres from the dangerous field of waste and water,” said one communicator.

The GRDM, in collaboration with George Municipality are hard at work trying to clear illegal dump sites in the George area, including Thembalethu and Pacaltsdorp. GRDM has committed R2.47 million to the project. George Municipality earlier announced that they will contribute R500 000.00 to curb illegal dumping. JCB backhoe loaders are utilised to clear sites and 35 Expanded Public Works Participant (EPWP) waste pickers work alongside these trucks to collect smaller items. More activities are lined up to take place over the next few months, including a survey to find out why people illegally discard of waste; and door-to-door awareness about the impact of illegal dumping , etc.

The question many Garden Routers is asking is – do we all want the areas cleaned or have many of us decided that a clean and safe environment is not important? The GRDM stumbled upon concerns raised on Facebook by a government employee who said that an illegal dumpsite was cleaned by the municipalities (Garden Route District and George), but moments later someone dumped their waste there again. Others commented on her post by saying that municipalities should plant trees at the sites, however this suggestion was said not to work because some community members might remove the trees. Another person said that the municipalities cleaned an area on a Monday, but by Tuesday the area was dirty again.

GRDM Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs) monitor the areas each day after a clean-up was conducted. EHPs are already aware that water at illegal dumping sites are toxic, but a decision was made to take water samples which will be analysed. Test results will indicate how dangerous these sites are  (backed by scientific evidence).

The public are urged to remind their friends, family and neighbours that the illegal dumping of waste is dangerous and that it poses a health hazard. Waste should be collected in refuse bags and placed for collection on waste removal days. Builders’ rubble and waste not suitable for bags must be dropped at the municipal refuse site on the R102 (airport road).

Communities can provide names, vehicle registration details or addresses of alleged illegal dumpers and make a statement in this regard by contacting Law Enforcement at 044 801 6350 or sprins@george.gov.za. George Municipality states that a person doesn’t need a photograph of the perpetrator, but that it would strengthen the case for a warning or fine to be issued.

Members of the public are also welcome to report illegal dumpsites to 044 802 2900.

Illegal dumping remains an offence and carries a R1000 fine.

ENDS

 

Severe Weather Alert: Impact Based Weather Warning for Western Cape and Namaqua

The South African Weather Service has issued the following Impact Based Severe Weather Forecast:

HAZARD: DISRUPTIVE RAIN

Alert Level: Yellow (L2)

Affected Municipalities: Bitou, George, Knysna and Mossel Bay.

Valid From (SAST): 09/10/20 00h00

Valid To (SAST): 09/10/20 00h00

Discussion: Rain is expected along the south coast and adjacent interior from Thursday into Saturday (08-10/10/2020) with rainfall accumulations of 5 to 15mm reaching 20 to 40mm over the eastern parts of the south coast. Due to recent rain in the area and more rain forecasted for Thursday into Saturday morning, there is a possibility of localised flooding to susceptible areas between Mossel Bay and Plettenberg Bay on Friday.

Impact: Localised flooding of susceptible informal settlements.  Minor motor vehicle accidents due to slippery roads and reduced visibility increasing travelling times.  Minor motor vehicle accidents due to slippery roads and reduced visibility increasing travelling times.

Instruction: If possible stay indoors and off the roads, avoid crossing rivers and swollen streams where water is above your ankles. If trapped in a vehicle during a flood, abandon it and climb to higher ground. In buildings, move valuables to a safe place above the expected flood level. Switch off electricity at the supply point to the building. In rural areas protect/relocate animals to a safe place on higher ground. Abandon your home immediately if evacuation is recommended before access is cut off by floodwater. NEVER drive on a road covered by water. If the vehicle stalls, leave it immediately and seek higher ground. Be especially cautious at night when it’s harder to recognize flood dangers. Listen to the radio or TV for warnings and obey the instructions from disaster management officers.

Report any severe weather related incidents to the Garden Route Disaster Management Centre at telephone number 044 805 5071.

Media Statement: Odour complaints in Mossel Bay receiving attention

Media Statement
For Immediate Release
8 October 2020

Odour complaints in Mossel Bay receiving attention

As part of an investigation about the offensive odour complaints in Mossel Bay, the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) Air Quality (AQ) and PetroSA convened a two-weekly meeting on odours in communities. The latest odours originate most likely from an oily effluent spill in the two storm-water dams on the refinery site. This incident was reported to the authorities and discussed in length at an engagement, followed by a media statement by PetroSA which addressed details of the incident. As part of the action list emanating from the meeting, GRDM visited the site and incident on the 6 October 2020. During the site visit the GRDM AQ Unit was joined by Mr Rudzani Makahane, Water Use Officer of the Breede-Gouritz Catchment Management Agency.

The oil spill into the storm water system was confirmed as signs of oil residue was visible in both the storm water ponds and the Blind River. There was a distinct pungent smell of hydrocarbons present at the ponds. Although, the GRDM is the Air Quality Licencing Authority for PetroSA, and offensive odours form part of air pollution, the primary origin of the odour is storm water. Thus, the primary source must be addressed in order to mitigate the air quality offensive odours (secondary matter).

The GRDM proposed that the incident needed to be addressed through a multi-sector approach by all applicable authorities. The case has also been referred to the Provincial Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, as well as the National Department of Environmental Affairs and Fisheries (DEFF). The GRDM will continue to put pressure on the relevant authorities to act in terms of their respective jurisdictions.

ENDS

 

Media Release: George Hospital virus testing unit closed

6 October 2020

 GEORGE HOSPITAL VIRUS TESTING UNIT CLOSED

George Hospital’s Virus Testing Unit (VTU) closed on Wednesday 30 September 2020. The unit has been a vital part of the George Regional Hospital’s response to COVID -19 since the inception of the lockdown period.

The total number of people screened at the unit since March is 53 649 of which 3 140 were tested and 666 tested positive. July saw the highest number of tests conducted (1064) with 350 positive results.

“I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to everyone who have played a crucial part in our COVID-19 response at George Hospital. Through commendable teamwork, so far, we have managed to efficiently contain the COVID pandemic in the Garden Route and George Hospital and successfully treat and discharge many patients. The past few weeks have seen a steady decrease in the number of infections as well as the demand for Coronavirus (COVID-19) testing. However, we are aware of a potential ‘second wave’, which we will address as the time comes”, said CEO Mr Michael Vonk.

As of 1 October 2020, the screening of the public will take place at Entrance 1 (EC minors/ Day ward entrance) and Entrance 4 (Main Entrance).  At each entrance there will be different screening times that apply, which are as follows:

Entrance 1: 24-hour screening and access

Entrance 4: 07:00 to 16:00 (Monday – Friday)

All persons entering the hospital will still need to adhere to the following conditions:

  1. Screening
  2. Hand sanitising
  3. Face mask

Unfortunately there is still no visiting of patients in hospital under lockdown level 1 regulations, however one birth partner will be allowed during delivery and will include an one-hour visit post-delivery. Parcels can now be delivered and can be dropped off at the specific department. George Hospital Outpatient Department will continue to function with reduced patient slots and the Day Theatre will continue to function as a Covid ward. Members of the public are urged to maintain social distancing at all times within the hospital and leave the building as soon as possible to avoid crowding.

 GEORGE SUBDISTRICT SERVICES:

 As of 1 October 2020 George subdistrict testing sites will be open as follows:

-END-

Nadia Ferreira

Principal Communications Officer

Garden Route and Central Karoo Districts

Western Cape Government Health

Town Clinic, Plettenberg Bay

Tel: 076 379 5423

Email: Nadia.Ferreira@westerncape.gov.za

Website: www.westerncape.gov.za

 

Financial Assistance towards Further Studies – 2021

Applications are invited from students who are currently studying at tertiary or TVET institutions; as well as learners that are currently in Grade 12; or have passed Grade 12 for financial assistance towards further studies for the 2021 academic year.  The award is restricted to full-time study and attendance at a SAQA accredited tertiary or TVET institution and is ONLY eligible to students whose parents permanently reside within the Garden Route municipal area.

Application forms are available at the GRDM head-office and satellite offices within the district during office hours (Monday – Thursday 07:30 – 16:30; Friday 07:30 – 13:30). Application forms are also available on the municipality’s website at www.gardenroute.gov.za.

GRDM WILL ONLY CONSIDER YOUR APPLICATION IF COMPLETED IN FULL, AND IF THE DOCUMENTS MENTIONED BELOW, AS AND WHERE APPLICABLE, HAVE BEEN INCLUDED.

A detailed Curriculum Vitae and cover letter, application form and certified copies of the following documentation must be attached: Latest or Grade 12 results or equal qualification; latest examinations results of students currently enrolled at tertiary institutions; certified copy of ID; affidavit of parents` combined income and proof of residential address (municipal account).  Please forward the application form and all documents to: Records, Garden Route District Municipality, 54 York Street, PO Box 12, George 6530, for attention: Training and Development Section.

For any enquiries do not hesitate to contact Mr Reginald Salmons at 044-803 1363, Ms Angeline Naidoo at 044-803 1420 or Mrs Angela-Ziva Coetzee at 044 803 1344  during office hours (Monday – Thursday 07:30 – 16:30; Friday 07:30 – 13:30).

Only short-listed candidates will be contacted. Should candidates not be contacted within two months after the closing date, they must consider their application as unsuccessful.

Click here to download the full advert.

Closing date: 30 October 2020

Notice number: 52/2020

Severe Weather Alerts: Disruptive Snow and Rain & Damaging Winds

The South African Weather Service has issued the following Impact Based Severe Weather Forecast:

HAZARD 1: DISRUPTIVE SNOW

Alert Level: Yellow (L2)

Affected Municipalities: Beaufort West, Breede Valley, Kannaland, Karoo Hoogland, Laingsburg, Langeberg, Oudtshoorn, Prince Albert and Witzenberg.

Valid From (SAST): 01/10/20 00h00

Valid To (SAST): 02/10/20 00h00

Discussion: Significant low freezing levels are expected over the interior of the Western Cape and southern parts of the Northern Cape for Thursday and Friday morning due to a passage of a cold front supported by an intense upper cut-off low pressure system. Snowfall is anticipated to cover the mountainous areas during the period. Cold wet and windy weather can be expected.

Impact: Loss of vulnerable crops and livestock, especially sheep that has already been sheered. Light snow leading to icy roads high up in mountains.

Instruction: Small stock farmers are encourage to shelter animals. Dress warmly and avoid high mountain passes if possible. Make contact with your closest disaster manager or community leader and keep listening to the Radio for updates. Bring livestock in and sheltered overnight.

HAZARD 2: DAMAGING WAVES

Alert Level: Yellow (L1)

Affected Municipalities: Cape AgulhasCity of Cape town, George, Hessequa, Knysna, Mossel Bay, Overstrand, Saldanha Bay, Swartland and Table Bay.

Valid From (SAST): 30/09/20 20h00

Valid To (SAST): 02/10/20 00h00

Discussion: A deep high pressure system (center 1037hPa) accompanied by an intense upper cut-off low pressure system in the upper levels will result in strong southerly to southeasterly winds over the Northern and Western Cape provinces, including the coastal areas from late Wednesday through to early Friday morning. Swell heights are expected to reach 4 to 6m on Thursday along the entire coastlines easing off from early Friday morning. The area of concern is between Cape Columbine and Plettenberg Bay due to the southerly component of both the wind and waves.

Impact: Difficulty in navigation is likely. Small vessels are at risk of taking on water and capsizing. Localized disruptions to beachfront activities and danger to rock anglers can be expected.

Instruction: Be aware of large unpredictable waves along the coast. Small vessels are advised to seek shelter in harbours, bays or inlets. Be aware of strong rip currents especially during periods around spring tide (30 Sep 2020 – 04 October 2020).

HAZARD 3: DISRUPTIVE RAIN

Alert Level: Yellow (L2)

Affected Municipalities: Beaufort West, Bitou, Cape Agulhas, George, Hessequa, Knysna, Laingsburg, Mossel Bay, Overstrand, Swellendam and Theewaterskloof.

Valid From (SAST): 01/10/20 00h00

Valid To (SAST): 02/10/20 00h00

Discussion: Significant rain is expected for the Overberg, southern parts of the Garden Route District and Central Karoo Districts from tomorrow Thursday morning into Friday. The accumulated rainfall is likely to reach between 35 to 45mm over the period due to the strong southerly winds aided by a cut-off low pressure system in the upper levels.

Impact: Localised flooding can be expected in susceptible formal and informal settlements and roads. Increased travel times and motor vehicle accidents may occur along with difficult driving conditions on dirt roads. Localised and short term disruption to essential services may also occur in places.

Instruction: If possible stay indoors and off the roads, avoid crossing rivers and swollen streams where water is above your ankles. If trapped in a vehicle during a flood, abandon it and climb to higher ground. In buildings, move valuables to a safe place above the expected flood level. Take caution driving on a roads covered by water. Listen to the radio or TV for warnings and obey the instructions from disaster management officers.

Report any severe weather related incidents to the Garden Route Disaster Management Centre at telephone number 044 805 5071.

Speech by Executive Mayor, Alderman Memory Booysen at an Ordinary Council meeting of Garden Route DM

Speech by Garden Route District Municipality Executive Mayor, Alderman Memory Booysen, at the Council meeting of GRDM on 30 September 2020.

Speaker

The bulk of my communications will be done as agenda items are being discussed.

One of the issues for me at the moment is that we seem to have been experiencing issues again with syncronising our council meeting dates and times of council with that of council meetings at b-municipalities. It often happens that meetings at local municipalities clash with those at the GRDM.

The other matter, which was raised at the MAYCO this morning, is that there is huge confusion about alert level 1 and the dangers still posed by the COVID-19 coronavirus. It seems like businesses are operating as per usual and that not all members of the public see masks as important to wear in public spaces. It therefore looks like the environment we find ourselves in is riskier than before because of human behaviour. We need to be reminded that under level 1 the virus still exists.

Thank you Alderman Speaker.

News Release: Environmental Health Practitioners still optimistic amidst the pandemic

News Release
For Immediate Release
30 September 2020

Environmental Health Practitioners still optimistic amidst the pandemic

Since March 2020, all Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs) of Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) have worked at grassroots level to raise awareness about COVID-19 to formal and informal business sectors. Awareness shared not only included the signs and symptoms of the Coronavirus disease, but more importantly, ways in which to minimize and prevent the spread of it.

“Since March 2020, three (3) EHPs out of 39 contracted COVID-19,” said Mr Johan Compion, GRDM Manager: Municipal Health & Environmental Services. “It has been a stressful time for EHPs and their families, especially for those who have family members at home stressed if their partners contracted COVID-19 while moving around,” he said.

GRDM Executive Manager, Mr Clive Africa explained that the multi-agency approach to curbing the spread of the virus is one of the reasons why not many lives were lost. “Our Firefighters and the additional 20 Expanded Public Works Programme workers, since 1 April 2020, disinfected a countless number of sites,” said Africa.

“None of these front-line workers contracted the virus, which is something we can be very grateful about”.

More frequent inspections were conducted at premises to ensure that the public stayed protected. Basic principles such as hand hygiene, cough etiquette, cleaning of frequently touched surfaces and social distancing were taught.  In addition, important factors such as adequate ventilation, the use of personal protective equipment, cleaning and disinfection of transport vehicles and pest control, were also shared and monitored.

Today, COVID-19 education is still done at informal and formal businesses, which include the following:

  • beauty salons (barbers, hairdressers and tattoo parlours)
  • old age homes/retirement homes
  • retail stores
  • churches
  • banks
  • SASSA PAY points
  • soup kitchens
  • clinics
  • schools
  • crèches
  • homes of COVID-19 patients
  • correctional services
  • police stations
  • door-to-door awareness
  • libraries
  • farms
  • holiday resorts/spas
  • hospitals
  • funeral undertakers
  • milking parlours
EHPs monitor compliance at a funeral.

Despite the hard work already done by EHPs, many community members do not wear masks. EHPs also found that many people do not adhere to social distancing protocols and ignore other COVID-19 preventative measures. In some cases, family members of those who were awaiting test results moved around while they should have been in quarantine. It has also noted with concern that social stigma and discriminatory behaviour occurred against people with COVID-19 or those who recovered from it.  GRDM urges the public to play their part in helping to curb the spread of this virus instead of fuelling the stigma around this pandemic.

Despite all the challenges faced, EHPs will continue to roll out preventative measures to combat and curb the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus disease.

ENDS

NEWS RELEASE: Resource management is key to Eastern Cape survival

Caption: Cover image – A noticeable influx of people from destitute Eastern Cape communities is contributing to socio-economic sustainability concerns in the Gamtoos Valley. (Photo: Cobus Meiring)

News Release
For Immediate Release
29 September 2020

Resource management is key to Eastern Cape survival

“The inevitable advent of Day Zero, combined with renewed load shedding, COVID-19 impacts and political and policy uncertainty, will no doubt impact upon regional socio-economic prospects. An urgent effort is required to collectively plan around resource management and water security, in particular, for the Gamtoos Valley and the Eastern Cape as a whole,” says Rienette Colesky, Chief Executive Officer of the Gamtoos Irrigation Board (GIB) in an interview with Cobus Meiring of the Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF).

The interview is part of an ongoing climate change debate and interview series, facilitated by the Forum to examine the correlation between some of the nett-effects experienced during COVID-19 and those enforced by climate change. In the interview,  Meiring asked Colesky about the relevance and sustainability of resource management in the Eastern Cape.

Farming activities in the Gamtoos Valley: Gamtoos farmers are adapting to the “new normal” exerted by a changing climate. (Photo: Cobus Meiring)

Says Meiring: “The geographical borders of the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) extend close to where the regional footprint of the GIB and the Sarah Baartman District Municipality starts. There are many shared similarities that the respective regions have in common in terms of environmental management, including climate change, in particular, drought and changes in rainfall patterns.”

Meiring wanted to know from Colesky what the GIB’s main concerns about climate change and resource management are in going forward.

Says Colesky: “The Gamtoos River community and its socio-economic survival is almost exclusively agro-centric and dependent on what the natural environment gives us. Resource management – water resource management in particular – is vital, not only for the Gamtoos and Kouga region, but it is essential for the Eastern Cape economy and the communities it supports. Water (management) is also a forex generator – it is a critical component of the entire agricultural produce export value chain and forex markets and therefore contributes to the South African economy as a whole.”

Asks Meiring: “The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality has now reached Day Zero. Given the extremely vulnerable status of the Kouga dam level, what are your sentiments on the immediate future of the regional water security situation, and the prospects for the farming community that is almost exclusively dependent on water from the Kouga dam, catchment and supply system?”

Says Colesky: “We are basically in uncharted waters with regards to water security and the impact thereof will have a harsh and tangible influence on both the short, medium and long-term prospects of agricultural productivity in the Gamtoos Valley.”

“Compounding the socio-economic situation, over the past few decades we have seen a significant influx of people from destitute Eastern Cape communities into the Gamtoos region in search of work. The influx generates ever-increasing demands on sparse resources, and, as COVID-19 highlighted, poses new economic and social challenges, impacting both directly and indirectly on our mandate and management resources.”

“Over and above our mandated environmental management issues, GIB has taken on a significant number of state-subsidised relief efforts aimed at poverty relief, mostly centralised around environmental rehabilitation work in wetland systems, invasive alien plant management and infrastructure maintenance and improvement.”

Continues Colesky: “We know that the interior and western parts of the GRDM also suffer from almost perpetual drought, and the Gamtoos farming community most certainly is feeling the same pressure, having to resort to adaptive measures to reduce water use, whilst maintaining as high as possible quality production levels.”

“Despite the restrictions imposed on us by nature in the form of a changing climate, especially in terms of severely reduced rainfall in our vital catchments, our farmers’ ability to adapt to the new normal in order to survive has been remarkable thus far.”

Concludes Colesky: “We are deeply concerned about the water security situation in the region as well as what is happening in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro, as we are socially and economically closely interlinked and co-dependent on the same resources.”

“An urgent and  collective effort in terms of planning around resource management, and water security in particular, from regional, provincial and national levels are required, without which a prosperous future for the Eastern Cape, as a whole, will not be sustainable.”

ENDS

MEDIA ENQUIRIES
1. Rienette Colesky, CEO of the Gamtoos Irrigation Board (GIB)
Tel: 042 007 0382; Cell: 083 703 0428
Email: rienette.c@gamtooswater.co.za; info@gamtooswater.co.za

2. Cobus Meiring: Chair of the Garden Route Environmental Forum Secretariat
Cell: 083 626 7619
Email: cobus@naturalbridge.co.za

Weather Forecast for the Week (28 September to 2 October 2020)

The Cape Town Weather Office has issued the weather outlook for the week, as follows:

A weak cold front is expected to brush through the South Western parts by late afternoon (Monday) resulting in rainfall between 0.2mm to 5mm, spreading to the South Coast by late evening. Wind is expected to reach 20 to 30km/h and slightly higher along the south and South Western coastal areas.

No significant weather predicted for Tuesday.

A cold front associated with an intense upper air system (cut-off low) is expected to affect the Province from Wednesday afternoon through to Friday morning. Accumulated rainfall amounts of 15 to 35mm are be expected in places in the Cape Metropole and Cape Winelands but 40 to 65mm in the Overberg, Garden Route and Central Karoo over the period.

Temperatures are expected to drop significantly on Thursday where Snowfalls are expected over the mountainous areas of Cape Winelands, Central Karoo and the Garden Route.

Strong and gusty southerly to South Easterly winds (45-60km/h) are expected on Wednesday through to Friday over the Province.

WIND:

Generally moderate to fresh (25 to 40km/h) Southerly to South Westerly winds are expected for the rest of the week, but strong to near gale southerly to South Easterly (50 to 62km/h) with gusts >63km/h are expected between Alexander Bay and Cape Agulhas by late Wednesday afternoon, spreading to Plettenberg Bay by the evening, persisting into Friday.

WAVES: 

 Two to 3m wave heights are expected for the rest of the week, but very rough seas with wave height of 4 to 5.5m are expected between Alexander Bay and Plettenberg Bay by late Wednesday evening into early Friday morning with south-westerly swell and periods of 10 to 12 seconds becoming southerly to South-South Easterly from Thursday morning south of Slangkop.

VISIBILITY:

 Generally good visibility is expected for the week but moderate to poor in rain and showers between Alexander Bay and Plettenberg Bay from late Wednesday evening  into early Friday morning.

Weather conditions will be monitored during the week and any further developments will be communicated if need be.

For more information, contact the Garden Route Disaster Managment Centre at 044 805 5071.