Over the past week, I have once again realised the importance of communication channels between the municipality and the public. The weather forecasts indicated that the berg wind conditions were to be a precursor to the approaching cold front.
On the afternoon of Wednesday, 18 May 2022, we started to receive messages of electricity outages due to wind damage and fires that turned into runaway problems on various fronts. Our Communications team comprising Chantel, Ntobeko and Debra went into overdrive to produce the communications necessary to alert the public. Many councillors have developed messaging groups through which these critical messages can be disseminated. We constantly trust that the persons on our distribution lists are connectors who then share messages to reach a broader audience.
Wednesday’s runaway fires and power outages impacted many communities and through messaging we were able to keep citizens informed on the status of bringing fires under control and then dealing with the more disruptive power outages where our repair teams worked long hours to clear vegetation and re-connect lines. I was touched once again by the positive comments for the work of our communications team, our fire-fighters and electrical teams.
We take pride in having employees (on an ongoing basis we also need to remember our water, sewer, refuse, stormwater teams and others) who are dedicated in keeping our services functioning at a high standard, as well as the privateers who pitch in or are contracted to assist.
It is critically important that our customers and all citizens ensure that their contact details are updated with the municipality so that the communication system can function effectively. The incidents that I have referred to (and the recent floods) are examples where we need to be able to reach our citizens quickly. Our Municipal App can be downloaded onto mobile phones (https://george.comunity.me) to report service faults, download your municipal account and receive communications.
Recently our Chief Whip, Marlene Barnardt attended a regional meeting of the residential estates community where she explained the importance of using the Municipal App and having access to messaging groups. We need to connect with all estates and community interest groups not only in relation to services (or to get counted for the Census) but also for the municipality to be informed about the needs and interests of citizens.
A key feature of becoming a successful, admired and innovative intermediate city is inter-active communication between the municipality and its citizenry and business communities. Communication promotes collaboration and understanding about our challenges and expectations. It would be appreciated if citizens and community groups who wish to be added to communication groups can send their names, addresses/suburbs, mobile numbers and email addresses to email@example.com