Busi­nesses called on to help fix Em­pan­geni

Zululand Observer - Weekender - - ZO NEWS - Or­rin Singh

AN EM­PAN­GENI busi­ness­man is call­ing on other busi­nesses own­ers to join the ‘Fix Em­pan­geni’ cam­paign.

Mark Hen­der­son, who has for the past 25 years been oper­at­ing a busi­ness in Union Street, said he and other con­cerned busi­ness own­ers in the CBD ini­ti­ated the cam­paign af­ter wit­ness­ing the ut­ter lack of up­keep in Em­pan­geni.

‘We want to fix the town; we want it to be tidy, neat, clean, and back to a nice look­ing stan­dard.

‘We’re tired of pot­holes, holes in the pave­ment, bro­ken drains and elec­tri­cal ca­bles stick­ing out all over the place.

‘It’s got to the point where we can’t han­dle the state of Em­pan­geni any­more.

‘We need to be proud of our town and make it look as de­cent as pos­si­ble,’ he said.

The cam­paign has been backed by the uMh­lathuze Mu­nic­i­pal­ity who on Tues­day ac­cepted Hen­der­son’s in­vi­ta­tion to join him and other con­cerned busi­ness own­ers in a con­struc­tive dis­cus­sion about restor­ing some of the towns de­te­ri­o­rat­ing in­fra­struc­ture and gen­eral ser­vices which seem to have been ne­glected.

City Mu­nic­i­pal Man­ager Dr Nh­lanhla Sibeko, Deputy Mu­nic­i­pal Man­ager (In­fra­struc­ture and Tech­ni­cal Ser­vices), Sa­belo Hlela and Man­ager of Com­mu­nity Ser­vices, Thandiwe Mathebula, were among some of the city of­fi­cials present on the day.

Sibeko noted that they had pre­vi­ously iden­ti­fied that there had been some ne­glect of the gen­eral up­keep in Em­pan­geni and there­fore a Re­vi­tal­iza­tion Project was launched to up­grade parts of the town.

‘The up­grade of Em­pan­geni’s Lot 63 taxi rank was one of the first phases of the Em­pan­geni Re­vi­tal­iza­tion Project (ERP).

‘We then em­barked on the Em­pan­geni Wa­ter Up­grade Project which has been one of the key mile­stones for the over­all ERP.

Sibeko said the project in­cludes var­i­ous phases and has been on­go­ing for the past three years, be­ing orig­i­nally planned over a six-year pe­riod. ‘When we looked at the state of our roads, our team did their home­work and said we would need about R480-mil­lion to fix the roads.

‘We don’t have R480-mil­lion just sit­ting some­where but what we’ll do is ev­ery year we will put a spe­cific bud­get to­gether and up­grade parts of the roads within the town,’ said Sibeko.

Hen­der­son in the mean­time said he is con­cerned about fu­ture pos­si­ble in­vestors.

‘My main con­cern is that ow­ing to lack of main­te­nance and by-law polic­ing, Em­pan­geni is slowly dy­ing - peo­ple no longer want to in­vest here be­cause it’s a dump.’

He chal­lenged other busi­nesses to stop com­plain­ing and start tak­ing ac­tion.

‘I think as busi­ness own­ers and prop­erty own­ers we have a stake in this town and we need to work to­gether with the mu­nic­i­pal­ity to achieve this.

‘The blame and shame ap­proach does not work.

‘There are good peo­ple in the mu­nic­i­pal­ity who are keen to im­prove our town.

‘I have al­ready no­ticed that the sub­urbs and parks have been cleaned up and are now bet­ter main­tained as there are work crews go­ing around clean­ing verges, etc.

‘This is greatly ap­pre­ci­ated by the res­i­dents.’

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