Talk of the Town
Issues thrashed out with Ndlambe
Parra met with Ndlambe Municipality senior officials last Thursday regarding the status of many issues of concern in Port Alfred.
Parra met with advocate Rolly Dumezweni (municipal manager); Michael Klaas (director from department of finance); Sipho Babama (deputy director of infrastructure); and Fanie Fouché (deputy director of community protection services).
Representing Parra were Dawie van Wyk (chairperson) and Lindsay Luppnow (vice-chair).
Parra seeks to work co-operatively with the municipality and find solutions together to ensure our residents’ and ratepayers’ interests are most effectively resolved.
The municipal manager was explicit that timelines and commitments from particular departments were agreed upon to create effective outcomes and accountability.
Parra asked that resources are allocated to updating and providing a more userfriendly experience on Ndlambe LM’s website www.ndlambe.gov.za. We have offered to assist with this, as well as providing an effective channel through Facebook for the municipality.
Parra believes the Customer Care officer has been an effective channel for matters to get attended to, however, there is no feedback to the reporting party.
Ndlambe acknowledged there was work to be done here and asked that when residents send reports, queries or complaints, they be concise, with as many accurate details as possible (addresses, photos, and so on).
Parra is eager to assist with other ways of communicating such as using the monthly rates bills to communicate messages from Ndlambe.
Parra also raised the difficulty in obtaining feedback through the correct chains of command.
The municipal manager asked Parra to address these issues with him directly in future so that he can in turn address them with officials.
Parra raised the issue of the Water Availability charge which appears on monthly rates accounts.
This levy is not only for water but for infrastructure as well. Under its current title, it creates frustration for ratepayers, particularly when there is no water flowing from the taps.
It has been agreed this title will be changed, with an explanation provided as to what this levy is actually for. Sewage:
Parra monitors and raises this issue almost daily, through reporting on our WhatsApp group with Ndlambe Municipality, as well as through the other official channels.
Parra has requested an audit of all 21 sewage pump stations: to date this has not been provided.
Parra has issued a challenge to the infrastructure department to fix all leaks and ensure the pump stations are working by the end of November, otherwise officials must be taken to task.
Main sewage concerns: Station Hill near SPCA; Van Der Riet Street, Becker Street, Sports Road and Sunningdale, communication on the new East Bank sewage upgrade plan and whether a valid EIA has been done.
Another concern raised was Biscay Road, which seems to be a permanent sewer. The sewage/water then runs into the stormwater drains and into the Duck Pond and from there to Kiddies
Beach and then into the Kowie River. Sewage is continuously spilling from Panorama View’s conservancy tanks and running into the storm water drain into Boundary Road, which stinks of raw sewage.
Babama advised that three more tanks were due to be installed in this area, and there would be three more connections.
He said the sewage stations were constantly being vandalised and theft was a huge problem.
Cages are to be placed over the stations most affected to protect them from theft and vandalism.
The use of security guards has been largely ineffective as they are often attacked and chased away.
Parra suggested signage with the names of the pump stations be placed at the pumps to make for accurate reporting when issues arise and Ndlambe LM has undertaken to do this.
During the replacement of the main pipeline, it became clear the tenants and businesses on and surrounding Main Street are some of the largest contributors to blockages.
Fat, nappies, synthetic hair and condoms are blocking the sewerage pipes and the resulting sewage spills into the centre of town.
It was discussed that these issues need to be addressed with landlords, businesses and owners in this area.
It was agreed there will be a joint effort between the infrastructure and community protection services departments to give notices to the relevant parties by November 18.
Parra is pleased by this as these blockages cause revenue to be taken from other projects and in the end cost ratepayers.
The municipal manager said there was an urgent need to employ a contractor to attend to the issue of the pump stations. Parra supports this as the current system is not satisfactory.
Parra has requested clarity from the infrastructure department on whether there is a maintenance programme in place for the water pumps.
Parra would like a plan to be developed with a schedule and a backup system of standby pumps for critical pump stations to ensure our access to water is not compromised.
Parra’s chairperson reiterated the need for a proper telemetry reporting system to be in place so accurate levels of the dams and reservoirs can be provided.
Parra has requested monthly reports on the water status at the different water sources, in the form of a small table.
Ndlambe has undertaken to provide this by the end of November 2022.
Parra raised the issue of the noise and lights from the 1ML RO plant on the banks of the Kowie River.
This is a constant and serious cause of irritation to residents across the river.
Ndlambe confirmed the plant will be moved to a different location and that it was only erected as part of the emergency measures needed.
Community Protection Services:
Parra is deeply concerned about the impact of the brine levels in the Kowie River.
This was previously raised with the department, but with no feedback.
Residents who live on the Kowie
River (opposite the brine outlet from the 1ML RO Plant) maintain that the brine is increasing the salinity of the water to such an extent that it is killing the sea grass and seaweed, which has grown extremely well after the 2012 flood.
We are deeply concerned about the devastating effect this could have on the flora and fauna of the Kowie River.
This also happened after the last temporary 1ML RO Plant was installed in the same place. Fish life was reduced, prawns disappeared and the health of the river deteriorated.
Neither of these plants have had EIAs done nor has any research been conducted into the devastating effect the increase in salinity will have on poisoning the Kowie River.
Ndlambe has confirmed that the 1ML RO plant is due to be moved and at the new location it will be closer to the sea, and therefore the brine can be sent out to sea and redistributed correctly.
Parra also discussed overgrown plots that pose a security risk for residents, as well as the good work of the SAPS and local businesses, such as Multi Security, which have launched “Take back our Town”.
Fouché advised that Ndlambe had applied for a grant for a period of three years to clear alien vegetation in the area, and was awaiting the outcome.
In the short-term, the Fire Services are assisting with cleaning plots belonging to Ndlambe under the banner of Fire Prevention. We believe that this is step in the right direction.
To access Parra’s full report on this important meeting, visit the website: https://parra.org.za/