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Ald Leon van Wyk, Executive Mayor of George

The municipality has recently communicated about the progress we have been making to erect 30 high mast lights in various areas across George. These lights will address inadequate lighting in high-density areas where there are high risks associated with safety at night as well as possible criminal activity that occurs under cover of darkness.

Installations are taking place in Thembalethu where 18 lights are being erected with Parkdene receiving five, Lawaaikamp four and Borcherds three. The lights are designed to each provide lighting covering a radius of 50-60 metres that will result in an area of roughly one hectare being covered by each light. A combination of grant and municipal funding amounting to R19 million is being utilised.

This lighting will provide additional safety for our citizens, some of whom live in informal settlements in these areas. Many of our informal dwellings do not have access to electricity. Often electrical connections are made illegally which are dangerous and unsafe. During periods of loadshedding, personal safety and security risks increase dramatically for these vulnerable citizens. Under cover of darkness, incidents of cable theft also increase.

The municipality has been undertaking projects to provide electricity to informal settlements in terms of priority criteria approved by the Council within budget constraints. This is a costly exercise that includes the installation of pre-paid meters. A pilot project is being undertaken to explore the use of solar PV panels to provide power to small clusters of dwellings. If this is successful, it will enable a more rapid roll-out.

It is expected that additional high mast lights will be erected shortly in other areas as part of a corporate social responsibility project. In some areas, criminal elements regularly embark on vandalism of street lighting and damage to electrical kiosks which go unreported. It is critical that our citizens take ownership of the efforts to improve services and collectively work together towards combatting and reporting incidents of illegal dumping, cable theft, and protecting essential infrastructure against theft and vandalism for the greater good of the community. Churches, schools and other community groups could all assist in these efforts.

The recent stormy weather has kept many of our municipal staff very busy in clearing, cleaning and maintenance operations as a result of damage caused by high winds and the heavy rains. In addition, there have been vehicle accidents and damage caused to infrastructure by contractors. There have been power outages caused by more than 100 trees falling on powerlines in forested areas. This clearing and repair operation in the Witfontein area was no doubt difficult and dangerous. We thank and applaud the work of the disaster, technical, community safety, cleaning and repair teams as they have quickly restored services.