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

22 July 2020 Media Release: New Mobile Air Quality Sensor for the Garden Route

Media Release: New Mobile Air Quality Sensor for the Garden Route

For Immediate Release
22 July 2020

The Garden Route District Municipality procured a new ambient air quality sensor for monitoring ambient air quality. The Zephyr® is a compact and lightweight ambient air pollution sensor that accurately measures harmful gases and particle matter.

​“Zephyr® sensors provide detailed air quality measurements in real-time to help identify pollution hotspots at a localised level such as busy road junctions, industrial activities and at area sources such as sewerage works, pumps station and stockpiles,” said Dr Johann Schoeman, GRDM Manager Air Quality Management.  The district might procure more sensors over time to be able to easily deploy district-wide analysis and optimisation of pollution-lowering initiatives. Ambient monitoring is a legislative requirement for District and Local municipalities and one of the objectives of the Garden Route 3rd Generation Air Quality Management Plan.

​Every unit is GPS enabled and can be used as a static or mobile sensor for while walking, cycling or driving.

Pollutants being measured

How it works

1. Power: Via a solar panel or DC power supply
2. Zephyr: Measures pollutants in the air in real-time
3. GSM: Built-in connection captures and sends data
4. SQL Database: Raw data is stored and calibrated
5. Upload Server: Data is authenticated and converted
6. Data access: Access and download your Zephyr data
7. MyAir: Access data via your online dashboard
8. API: Integrate data into an existing system

Every Zephyr® air quality sensor is calibrated prior to dispatch and its calibration performance is tested against reference standard analysers. Furthermore, every Zephyr® comes standard with a calibration certificate.

While the sensor is deployed, real time measurements can be accessed by the District Air Quality officers via a laptop, personal computer or cellular phone. This is extremely helpful especially when dealing with air quality complaints. Data is viewable in various formats such as excel spreadsheets, graphic formats or a dashboard. It can also be viewed as a snapshot, providing the user with  an overall view of the air quality in the current location, based on USEPA Air Quality indexes. GRDM already requested Earthsense, the manufacturer of Zephyr®, to adopt the index for our local conditions and to tweak the programme for South African National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

The sensor is currently located in the Mossel Bay region where it is used as a tool to assist with an air quality complaint. The Garden Route has various air quality hot-spots, as identified in the AQMP. Therefore, the sensor will be moved around in the District to obtain the necessary air quality status of each of the hot spots. This data is essential in order to mitigate and improve the general air quality of the region.

It is also the District’s goal to expand the ambient monitoring network so that each town has its own Zephyr® to assist in achieving the GRDM Air Quality vision “To have air quality worthy of the name Garden Route”.

For any further information, please contact Dr Johann Schoeman on: jschoeman@gardenroute.gov.za or 044 803 1300.

ENDS

18 July 2020 Media Release: Garden Route District Municipality celebrates Mandela Day and donates essential items to the vulnerable

Media Release: Garden Route District Municipality celebrates Mandela Day and donates essential items to the vulnerable

For Immediate Release
18 July 2020

While the world celebrates the life of an icon, the late President of the Republic of South Africa, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, employees of the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) also followed his example to reach out to vulnerable community members in George.

Employees from the Corporate Services Department at GRDM did their bit by contributing towards buying essential food hampers for households who are struggling under the financial strain of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The items were donated to the beneficiaries on Friday, a day before the celebration of Madiba’s birthday.

Readily prepared food hampers soon before it was donated to vulnerable residents of George.

Ms Shandré Abrahams, GRDM Employee Wellness Practitioner, who drives this annual programme, said: “This is a very difficult time in the lives of many South Africans and it’s amazing to see employees reaching in their pockets to continue to do their bit to support the residents of the Garden Route”.

In previous years officials based at all the Municipal Health offices across the district also participated in this initiative, however due to their added COVID-19 responsibilities of creating awareness, monitoring additional hygiene compliance measures and contact tracing activities, they were unable to partake in this years’ programme. However, the GRDM Municipal Health office in George plans to hand out masks to the community of Thembalethu in George after news broke that this area was recently declared as the COVID-19 hotspot in the region and George. The Environmental Health Practitioners continue to create awareness about the virus and the danger thereof to members of the community and continuously urge them to adhere to the relevant regulations.

Through this initiative, it is fulfilling to observe how every single donation can make a difference in the lives of those who need it most. It never matters how big or small selfless acts or donations are, what matters is the intention and compassion of a person to bring about change during a time when the world is on its knees.

“As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” -Nelson Mandela

ENDS

17 July 2020 Media Release: COVID discharge: Ria Makhwenkwe

Media Release: COVID discharge: Ria Makhwenkwe

For Immediate Release
17 July 2020

Ria is going home – almost!  Sixty-four-year-old Ria Makhwenkwe, from Thembalethu has survived Covid-19.

During the first couple of days of her admission at George Hospital, Ria was critically ill, unable to speak more than a word at a time without resting.

Through the dedicated care of the team in the Covid ICU, supported by a tireless team of support services, Ria is nearly ready to be discharged back home. “I can’t believe how lucky I am to have survived. This is a really scary illness and I wish to never experience anything like it again! Thank you to everyone who took such good care of me, night and day”, she said.

The George Hospital Team wishes Ria all the best for the future.

-END –

Nadia Ferreira
Principal Communications Officer
Garden Route and Central Karoo Districts
Western Cape Government Health

 

17 July 2020 Media Release: Illegal dumping remains a problem in the Garden Route, all over South Africa and many parts of the world

Media Release: Illegal dumping remains a problem in the Garden Route, all over South Africa and many parts of the world

For Immediate Release
17 July 2020

Illegal dumping and littering is still an ongoing problem in all nine provinces of South Africa. Moreover, with the lockdown and essential workers testing positive for COVID-19, many municipalities around the country experienced a backlog in their efforts to remove waste. Illegal dumping sites are now on the increase. These sites serve as a breeding ground for mosquitos and vermin such as rodents and cockroaches that can cause life-threatening diseases.

“Although the management of the illegal dumping of waste doesn’t fall under the ambit of GRDM, society as a whole has a collective responsibility to keep the environment clean in the same manner that they maintain cleanliness in their homes and yards. The ill-conceived notion that littering creates employment for cleaners simply degrades our public areas and health,” said Executive Mayor Alderman Memory Booysen. “I used to be the mayor of Bitou Municipality where we experienced the same issue. People illegally dumped waste and littered while government was blamed for not cleaning up the environment,” he said. “Municipalities never illegally dump waste in neighbourhoods,” he added.

Municipalities need the public to help combat illegal dumping by reporting perpetrators. These criminal activities by individuals or organised groups negatively impact the lives of particularly the elderly and children, as they often come into contact with dangerous and contaminated medical waste, including items that may be contaminated with the COVID-19 coronavirus,” said Clive Africa, GRDM Executive Manager for Community Services.

Local municipalities do their utmost to inform and educate residents regarding illegal dumping and using the available waste removal services. The cost involved in the removing and cleaning of illegal dumping is exorbitant and could be better utilised in delivering other desperately required services in the communities. Local municipalities also issue fines of up to R1000.00 to those found guilty of illegally dumping waste.

Communication Manager of George Municipality, Ms Chantel Edwards-Klose, has indicated that George Municipality has recorded more than 200 illegal dumping spots within their municipal area. “Our municipality has run illegal dumping awareness campaigns at a number of schools and implemented extensive awareness efforts on radio and social media over the years. Trespassers know that what they are doing is illegal, which makes it even sadder that they have no pride in their surroundings or concern for the well-being of their neighbours. It is so disheartening to our officials to clean up an area, at great expense, and go back a week later to find it filled with dumped refuse again.”

Illegal dumping and littering is an environmental crime

All contraventions of environmental legislation constitute a criminal offense. Environmental crimes include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Environmental pollution
  • Criminal activities relating to damaging of natural resources and habitats
  • Illegal disposal, handling and management of waste
  • Damaging and destroying natural resources, habitats and biodiversity
  • Criminal activities associated with endangered and indigenous species of fauna and flora
  • Harming the health of humans by causing a range of diseases

While disinfecting areas within the region firefighters and environmental health practitioners from GRDM found tissues, builders’ rubble, cardboard, chemical substances, baby nappies, plastic bags, sanitary pads and condoms. “Community members say that they are annoyed by the surge of illegal dumping in front of their homes and in the streets during lockdown,” said Mr Deon Stoffels, GRDM Station Officer: Fire & Safety Training, who coordinates the COVID-19 disinfection task team.

How public can address the issue of littering and illegal dumping

  1. Talk to the person directly.
  2. Security camera footage or photo evidence can be provided to the municipality or police of when and where it occurred and who did it.
  3. Report those orchestrating dumping activities to the authorities.
  4. Report those dumping waste by providing their names, vehicle registration details or addresses of alleged perpetrators.
  5. Educate and be a good example to the children in your communities.

Illegal dumping hotspots in the Garden Route

Apart from open spaces, there are specific areas within each municipal boundary where illegal dumping happens more often than others. Remember, the illegal dumping of waste poses a threat not only to the environment, but the health and well-being of communities too.

Hessequa:  Theronsville, Aloeridge, Morestond and Kwanokuthula. Residents from the Hessequa municipal area can report the illegal dumping of waste to 028 713 8020 or e-mail info@hessequa.gov.za.

Mossel Bay: Heiderand, KwaNonqaba, Alsapark, Highwaypark, Groot-Brakrivier, Hartenbos, Sonskynvallei, D’Almeida, JCC, Klein-Brakrivier, Glentana, Reebok, Fraaituitsig, Tarka, Ruiterbos and Friemersheim.  Residents from the Mossel Bay municipal area can report the illegal dumping of waste to 044 606 5143 or 044 606 5000, SMS your complaint to 44802 or e-mail admin@mosselbay.gov.za.

George: Thembalethu, Protea Park, Lavalia, Rosemoor, Conville, Maraiskamp, Parkdene, Rosedale, Syferfontein, New Dawn Park, Seaview, Blanco, Touwsranten, Widlerness Heights Informal Settlement and Kleinkrantz Informal Settlement. Report those illegally dumping waste to 044 801 6350 or e-mail sprins@george.gov.za.

Knysna: Dam-se-Bos, Nekkies, Khayalethu, Concoria, Joodse Kamp, Smutsville, Karatara and Rheenendal. Residents from the Knysna municipal area can report the illegal dumping of waste to 044 302 6405, e-mail rloxton@knysna.gov.za or WhatsApp to 081 556 3974.

Bitou: New Horizons, Kwanokuthula, Bossiesgif, Qolweni, Pine Trees, Green Valley, Harkeville, Kranshoek and Kurland. Residents from the Bitou municipal area can report the illegal dumping of waste to CustomerCare@bitou.gov.za or call 044 501 3174/5.

Greater Oudtshoorn: Bridgton and Bongolethu where illegal dumping is rife. Residents from the Greater Oudtshoorn municipal area can report the illegal dumping of waste to 044 203 7800.

Kannaland: Informal settlements, Royal Heights and Protea Park. Residents from the Kannaland municipal area can report the illegal dumping of waste to 078 409 9064.

All over South Africa

ENDS

17 July 2020 Media Statement: IDP Manager for Garden Route District Municipality passes away

Media Statement: IDP Manager for Garden Route District Municipality passes away

For Immediate Release
17 July 2020

He will be remembered as a ‘humble, kind, calm and collected’ colleague

“It is with shock and broken hearts that we learned of the passing of one of our own employees yesterday to COVID-19,” said Alderman Booysen, Executive Mayor for the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM). Integrated Development Planning (IDP) Manager, Mr Mzukisi Cekiso is no longer with the GRDM. “Our prayers go out to his wife, child, family and friends – the District will never be the same again,” said Alderman Booysen. “The sun went down during the day.”

‘Mzu’, as he was fondly referred to by everyone, brought a breath of fresh air to the institution with his appointment on 1 February 2018. Part and parcel of his responsibilities were to manage and coordinate the IDP, Public Participation and Intergovernmental Relations functions for the district.

During a Zoom meeting today, 17 July 2020, with employees at GRDM, Alderman Booysen described Mzu as a man who often “presented his strong side to others”, who was also in contrast “a light-hearted person with a lot of ambitions”. Mayor Booysen said when Mzu bought a new vehicle he requested permission from Mzu to take it for a drive. Mzu jokingly responded: “my vehicle starts with only my own fingerprint”. Employees all have fond and happy memories of their engagements with Mzu.

Sadly, Alderman Booysen recalled one of the last messages Mzu sent to his wife Elethu in which he stated that “this COVID-19 nonsense is painful”. A scary and mind-opening fact about the seriousness of the virus.

GRDM Municipal Manager Mr Monde Stratu encouraged all Councillors and employees to be vigilant during this period because the COVID-19 Coronavirus is “vicious and knows no boundaries”. He also pleaded to employees, especially men, not to think that by avoiding to admit oneself to the hospital a person would be perceived as “brave at hearted”. He said: “You should seek medical assistance should the need arise”.

Mr Lusanda Menze, GRDM Executive Manager for Planning and Economic Development when asked to share his thoughts about Mzu, said: “A great son of the soil! Mzu’s passing came as a shock to many of us. I was in daily contact with him and he never showed any signs of apprehension. Having known him for close to 10 years, the Department is incomplete without him. I am really saddened by the loss of this kind, caring and gentle person who had an affable demeanour. He had the equanimity of dealing with complex issues and was [also] self-driven”.

Ms Mercy James, GRDM IDP Officer, was his right hand at work. She describes her time reporting to him by saying, “I was blessed to work with Mzu from 1 March 2018. Since the onset of my duties, he made it clear that the IDP unit was not about him, but that we needed to work as a team. Over time Mzu got to know not only my strengths, the areas of my skill set where I were not that strong.  He was determined to see me develop my strengths, rather than revealing my weaknesses. A true leader, who walked in front but close enough to his supporting team. I experienced him as humble, kind, calm and collected person, and he could easily handle my ‘differently tempered’ personality. I’m deeply saddened by his passing, but grateful that I had the privilege of working with a noble man like him.”

Mzu was involved in many government structures, well known to those working inside and outside the organisation, including premiers, mayors, municipal managers, IDP managers and the like. His sudden passing has left a void in the municipality. His colleagues and friends were not able to say goodbye before he left because everything happened so fast.

The municipality is in contact with Mzu’s family to provide the necessary assistance and support during this difficult period.  “This was too sudden, especially for those who were close to him…there are no words to explain the grief that all of us are observing even from afar,” Mr Stratu concluded.

May his soul rest in peace.

ENDS

 

iStock.com/ra2studio

17 July 2020 Media Release: Garden Route Health Platform Update – 17 July 2020

Media Release: Garden Route Health Platform Update 

17 July 2020
For Immediate Release

 As of 17 July 2020, the Garden Route District has 3339 confirmed cases of Covid-19.

Cases 

Garden Route cases and recoveries per subdistrict.

Bitou 229 cases; 107 recoveries
Knysna 509 cases; 259 recoveries
George 1532 cases; 853 recoveries
Hessequa 60 cases; 34 recoveries
Kannaland 35 cases; 18 recoveries
Mossel Bay 722 cases; 324 recoveries
Oudsthoorn 252 cases; 89 recoveries

The Garden Route has recorded 73 Covid-19 deaths.

Hessequa 2
Mossel Bay 9
George 35
Knysna 11
Bitou 8
Oudtshoorn 8

Hospitalisation

There are currently 88 patients admitted in public and private hospitals with 17 in High Care/ICU.

Community Testing and Screening

The approach to active Covid-19 case finding within the rural areas remain that of community testing and screening with a focus on people > 55 years, the vulnerable and those of high risk (people with co-morbidities). To date 137 385 people have been screened and 1007 referred for testing.

Isolation and quarantine

Isolation facilities are for patients with mild to moderate symptoms where they can recover from Covid-19 (usually 14 days) and quarantine facilities are for those awaiting test results. These facilities are safe and comfortable and you will receive free transport, meals, and a laundry service. People who cannot isolate or quarantine safely at home, can be referred to a isolation or quarantine facility.

PetroSA (West Camp) is currently the only activated isolation and quarantine facility in the Garden Route. More facilities will be announced, if and when the need arises or capacity is exceeded at PetroSA. We currently have 80 people at West Camp.

Primary healthcare                  

Our Primary Health Care platform is an important vehicle to support our health system, so that our patients are well cared for to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed. Although we advise patients to only visit their nearest clinic for essential services we remind parents and caregivers that services such as immunisations are still rendered. It is important to attend all your confirmed appointments. Services such as women’s health(family planning, antenatal and post-natal care), child health(immunisations) and TB, are still rendered. Stable chronic care patients must collect their chronic medicine at the chronic off-sites. Should you require guidance or advice around your current treatment or scheduled appointment, please contact your clinic/hospital.

Shielding the vulnerable

Persons over the age of 55 or have a chronic condition are at risk for severe COVID-19 illness and should take extra precautions to protect themselves by following these steps:

  1. Avoid getting the virus by staying home, wear a mask (when you have to go out), wash hands regularly and disinfect surfaces
  2. Look after your health by following a healthy lifestyle and take your medication regularly
  3. Get help immediately if you do not feel well
  4. If you develop COVID-19 symptoms, go for immediate testing, do not delay

The Department has implemented an action plan for Diabetics with COVID symptoms which includes expanding testing for diabetics who represent a high risk group. Our current data suggests that these patients are presenting or are being admitted too late in a very sick conditions, which has dire outcomes.

Next 100 days

The Department has identified the next 100 days as crucial to refocusing the health system and health services while still managing the pandemic with continued interventions to increase immunisation coverage, TB treatment and ART uptake.

We urge all citizens to remain careful in observing the essential 5 Golden Rules of hygiene and safety. It remains important to take particular care of persons with underlying conditions and particularly Diabetes, who are at significantly increased risk of severe COVID-19. We urge these people to really take special care and to shield themselves from exposure where possible.

The protection of our most vulnerable loved ones remains in our collective hands.

-ENDS-

Nadia Ferreira
Principal Communications Officer
Garden Route and Central Karoo Districts
Western Cape Government Health
Town Clinic,Plettenberg Bay
Tel: 044 5333846
Email: Nadia.Ferreira@westerncape.gov.za 
Website: www.westerncape.gov.za

Picture credit: iStock.com/ra2studio

17 July 2020 Notification: Essential re-gravel and drainage repair work along the Southern section of the Swartberg Pass

Notification: Essential re-gravel and drainage repair work along the Southern section of the Swartberg Pass

Immediate Release
17 July 2020

Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) will perform essential re-gravel and drainage repair works on the Swartberg Pass between sections 14.40km and 23.24km (R328 / P0369).

The project will stretch over an eight month period.

Details include: 

Period: 20 July 2020 till 31 March 2021
Mondays to Thursdays: 08h30 to 16h00
Fridays: 08h30 to 13h00

During above mentioned time-frames construction vehicles will be active on narrow road sections. Motorists will experience stop-and-go with delays of up to one hour or more. Road users are therefore requested to plan their trips with the above in mind. An alternate route via Meiringspoort on trunk road 33/4 can be used.

Approach roadworks cautiously

Equally important is the safety of road users. Flag operators in our road maintenance teams are tasked with helping traffic flow smoothly and safely around the affected area.  At times where there are no flag operators, road users must obey the traffic signs.

  1. Approach the construction zone with caution especially under wet and dark conditions.
  2. If you are approaching a stop/go control, obey the flag operator. He or she will use hand signals and flags to show if when is your turn to stop and when you can go.
  3. When vehicles are in front of you as you approach the construction site, slow down, stop if necessary, and remain cautious and observant.
  4. Obey temporary speed limits at roadwork sites.
  5. The lane width may be narrower than usual and therefore more hazardous. Road shoulders may be particularly narrow. Be extra careful. Stay in your lane. Do not straddle the lines.
  6. When moving through a construction site, keep your attention on driving and on other traffic. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted by construction activities. This is dangerous and can slow down traffic unnecessarily.
  7. Watch out for construction equipment, workers, obstacles and debris.

Report potholes and road-related issues

 Road users can report potholes and road-related issues to info@gardenroute.gov.za.

Please include your name, contact number and location of the pothole in your e-mail. The exact location is very important because this will save us time in finding the pothole and to do the repairs as soon as we can.

For more information

Project enquiries: Mr. Lionel Coetzee
Cell: 082 883 2140
Email: LionelC@gardenroute.gov.za

17 July 2020 Media Release: Hygiene services enhanced at the GRDM – have yours?

Media Release: Hygiene services enhanced at the GRDM – have yours?

For Immediate Release
17 July 2020

The Department of Employment and Labour issued guidelines which require employers, ‘to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, that all persons who may be directly affected by the activities of others (such as customers, clients or contractors and their workers who enter their workplace or come into contact with their employees) are not exposed to hazards to their health or safety. This obligation also applies to self-employed persons whose working activities bring them into contact with members of the public’.

In order to comply with these guidelines, the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) put measures in place to prevent the spread of infections in the workplace.  Some of these measures include placing hand sanitising dispensers at entry points; the daily screening of employees for symptoms of COVID-19 when they report for work; providing face masks to be worn in the workplace and conducting virtual meetings to adhere to social distancing protocols.

The value and welfare of hygiene officials are critical, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Therefore, it is vital that these officials are well equipped and looked after. As an additional safety measure, the hygiene officials were each furnished with personal protective equipment to wear.

It is a known fact that regular cleaning routines are a simple, yet effective way to ensure a hygienic environment and prevent the spread of germs and infections caused by contact of surfaces, communal spaces and offices.

Daily workplace cleaning routines have been ‘sharpened’ and cleaning times were altered. Hygiene officials start their workday at 07:30 and knock off at 16:00, whereas administrative officials start at 08:00 and finished at 16:30. The reason behind this arrangement is that when administrative officials arrive at work, their workstations are clean and safe when they start their daily operations. Hygiene officials’ routine starts with the sanitising and disinfection of all offices.

The following areas were identified as ‘hotspots’ in offices that should be cleaned to reduce the possibility of bacterial or viral infection.

  • The immediate workstations of officials
  • Keyboards and telephones
  • Chair seats and handles
  • Door handles
  • Light switches

Before and after meetings, committee rooms and venues are sanitised and disinfected; however, the responsibility of hygiene staff to serve coffee and tea was temporarily discontinued in order for them to focus on hygiene functions.

The health and safety of officials and visitors are of paramount importance to the GRDM, and for this reason, officials and visitors are requested to work together, to take control and practice safe hygiene habits in order to promote a healthy workplace.

16 July 2020 Media Release: George Airport open for business travel under Alert Level 3

Media Release: George Airport open for business travel under Alert Level 3

For Immediate Release
16 July 2020

We welcome the announcement by Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula, that George Airport will open to receive business travellers and cargo under Alert Level 3. As a critical transport link for providing access to the Garden Route District for many business travellers across South Africa, this decision provides much-needed support to jobs and the economy in the Western Cape.

That is why we have been working hard, together with the Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA), the George Airport management, George Municipality and our provincial Department of Health, to find a solution that will allow the George Airport to meet the criteria required for the airport to open.

Thanks to the effort of all involved, the Western Cape Department of Health will partner with ACSA to ensure that Covid-19 screening is conducted at the George Airport.

We are confident that George Airport is ready to welcome businesses travellers to the Garden Route.

Read full statement: https://www.westerncape.gov.za/news/george-airport-open-business-travel-under-alert-level-3