Calm re­sto­red in Qol­we­ni – for now

Knysna-Plett Herald - - News | Nuus -

P­let­ten­berg Bay can ho­pe­ful­ly look for­ward to pe­a­ce and qui­et on­ce a­gain af­ter the town’s ma­yor Pe­ter Lo­be­se met with the un­hap­py com­mu­ni­ty of Qol­we­ni, who re­cent­ly re­sor­ted to ri­ots to high­lig­ht their plig­ht for hou­sing, schools, cli­ni­cs and sa­fe­ty. Yo­lan­dé S­tan­der re­ports on the out­co­me of t­his com­mu­ni­ty enga­ge­ment

Qol­we­ni re­si­dents, who we­re at the cen­t­re of re­cent pu­blic un­rest o­ver va­ri­ous is­su­es from hou­sing to u­nem­ploy­ment, ha­ve been gi­ven new ho­pe af­ter a se­ries of com­mit­ments from the Bi­tou Mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty.

T­he­se re­si­dents sta­ged spo­ra­dic pro­tes­ts on the N2 in P­let­ten­berg Bay bet­ween 11 and 14 Ju­ne which broug­ht traf­fic to a stand­still and for­ced bu­si­nes­ses to c­lo­se their doors du­ring the acti­on due to loot­ing and pe­trol bom­bings in the a­rea.

So­me of their de­mands in­clu­ded hou­sing, a cli­nic, a s­chool in the com­mu­ni­ty and em­ploy­ment.

Bi­tou ma­yor Pe­ter Lo­be­se met with the com­mu­ni­ty on 14 Ju­ne, which broug­ht the ri­ots to an end, and agreed to re­port back to them with an acti­on plan.

Ma­yor meets with com­mu­ni­ty

T­his ex­ten­si­ve re­port-back meet­ing took pla­ce on 21 Ju­ne.

One of the is­su­es in­vol­ved the se­ven pro­tes­tors who we­re ar­res­ted du­ring the ri­ots. “The ma­yor rai­sed t­his mat­ter with the P­let­ten­berg Bay po­li­ce, who in turn will in­te­ract and li­ai­se with the De­part­ment of Jus­ti­ce and the Na­ti­o­nal Pro­se­cu­ting Aut­ho­ri­ty (NPA) to con­si­der, as t­his falls out­si­de the man­da­te of the mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty,” mu­ni­ci­pal spo­kes­per­son Man­fred van Rooy­en said.

A­not­her is­sue rai­sed was the high u­nem­ploy­ment ra­te in Qol­we­ni, es­pe­ci­al­ly a­mong the youth. “The ma­yor, on be­half of the mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty, ackno­w­led­ged the con­cern rai­sed by the com­mu­ni­ty on the u­nem­ploy­ment chal­len­ges. The mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty is en­coura­ging all u­nem­ploy­ed youth to re­gis­ter on the mu­ni­ci­pal da­ta­ba­se for em­ploy­ment, as t­his is a re­qui­re­ment of the em­ploy­ment po­li­cy.”

‘P­re­fe­ren­ce to Qol­we­ni’

The ma­yor com­mit­ted that the mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty would gi­ve p­re­fe­ren­ce to Qol­we­ni u­nem­ploy­ed youth in­vol­ving pro­jects and Ex­ten­ded Pu­blic Works Pro­gram­me (EPWP) op­por­tu­ni­ties ta­king pla­ce in Ward 3.

“T­his, ho­we­ver, does not ap­ply to scar­ce skills. The ma­yor stres­sed that em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties in the mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty are o­pen to all com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers that meet the mi­ni­mum re­qui­re­ments. Com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers are en­coura­ged to ap­ply w­hen the po­si­ti­ons are ad­ver­ti­sed in our lo­cal news­pa­pers and no­ti­ce bo­ards.”

The com­mu­ni­ty al­so high­lig­h­ted the need for for­mal hou­sing – an is­sue that was re­cent­ly high­lig­h­ted af­ter a fi­re swept through the com­mu­ni­ty on 3 Ju­ne, de­stroying 25 in­for­mal ho­mes and le­a­ving mo­re than 100 re­si­dents, in­clu­ding 31 child­ren, dis­pla­ced.

169 hou­ses to be built

Lo­be­se an­noun­ced se­ver­al in­ves­t­ments in t­his re­gard in­clu­ding 169 hou­ses will be built at a pro­jected cost of mo­re than R38mil­li­on. T­his pro­ject is set to com­men­ce on 1 No­vem­ber and is set to in­clu­de tran­si­ti­o­nal re­lo­ca­ti­on a­rea u­nits and ru­di­men­ta­ry ser­vi­ces.

Van Rooy­en ad­ded that 382 si­tes would al­so be ser­vi­ced at a pro­jected cost of c­lo­se to R37-mil­li­on. T­his, too, is set to in­clu­de tran­si­ti­o­nal re­lo­ca­ti­on a­rea u­nits and ru­di­men­ta­ry ser­vi­ces.

“Both t­he­se pro­jects are cur­rent­ly in the pro­cu­re­ment pro­cess,” Van Rooy­en said.

Lo­be­se al­so an­noun­ced a vi­sit by na­ti­o­nal Mi­nis­ter of Hu­man Sett­le­ments No­main­diya M­fe­ke­to on 5 Ju­ly.

Plans for cul­tu­ral vil­la­ge

With re­gard to the com­mu­ni­ty’s de­mand for a s­chool, com­mu­ni­ty hall and sa­tel­li­te po­li­ce sta­ti­on, Lo­be­se said the de­mands had been re­fer­red to the re­spon­si­ble pro­vin­ci­al and na­ti­o­nal de­part­ments as t­he­se fell out­si­de the mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty’s man­da­te.

The re­si­dents al­so high­lig­h­ted the lack of com­mu­ni­ty pro­jects. Lo­be­se sub­se­quent­ly an­noun­ced the re-es­ta­blishment and up­gra­ding of the Qol­we­ni Cul­tu­ral Vil­la­ge pro­ject for the 2018/19 fi­nan­ci­al y­e­ar.

The ma­yor fi­nal­ly com­mit­ted to on­going com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on and enga­ge­ments to keep the com­mu­ni­ties a­bre­ast of pro­gress with all the is­su­es.

P­ho­to: Wies­ba­de­ner Ku­rier

Calm af­ter the storm: Qol­we­ni in P­let­ten­berg Bay.

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