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Mayor’s Newsletter for George Herald of 26 October 2023

Mayor’s Newsletter for George Herald of 26 October 2023

The past weekend has been most eventful as George citizens lived through heavy rainfall dealing with the effects of such a deluge along with the Proteas clinically disposing of England at cricket through to the nail-biting experience of willing our rugby Springboks over the English try-line.

Apart from the concerns that stormwater systems are unable to cope with flooding when heavy rain falls in short periods, there is the worry of how vulnerable persons cope with drainage and the consequences of having erected informal settlements on sloping ground. These events require municipal staff to be called in to assist in providing the necessary relief. Pro-active and preventative clearing of stormwater drains has really helped this year except where water volumes are just too high. The streets and stormwater teams resolved 52 of 59 drain blockages and repairs to gravel roads by Sunday night. Often drains get blocked when citizens dump litter in their own neighbourhood streets. Electricity teams have had to deal with numerous outages including electricity poles lost in ground subsidence.

In addition, the municipality immediately reacted to clear a mudslide in Kaaiman’s Pass that closed the N2 on Saturday as well as a fallen tree on Sunday, even though this highway falls under the jurisdiction of SANRAL. It was crucial to clear this highway to minimise disruption to traffic patterns. We are grateful to the district municipality which acts as the agent for the provincial government on the Seven Passes / Saasveld road for speedily clearing that road. However, remedial work will urgently be required to repair damage on the latter road.

We applaud the highly commendable and appreciated work undertaken by our municipal teams. This work links in with the outcomes of Census 2022 which reflects George’s population having grown at 4,1% per annum from 2011 to 294929. This is the fastest growth rate among intermediate cities with George showing an increment of 100000 over the period. Apart from the population growth in the City of Cape Town, well-run municipalities of Mossel Bay, Overstrand and Saldanha Bay have each seen population growth of approximately 50 000.

In recent articles, commentators have contrasted the decline of local and government services in many areas with those areas of the country where standards are maintained. They have noted that well-governed municipalities are proactive in ensuring high service standards. Elsewhere there are examples of support from the private sector and civil society who play active roles to seek and provide practical solutions where the government appears to be failing or unable to provide services. The data from Census 2022 therefore shows how citizens migrate to those municipalities that are high-performing and that ensure that infrastructure is maintained and upgraded, thus resulting in investment.

Alderman Leon van Wyk
Executive Mayor of George