30th September 2016
Welcome to this first edition of The Grahamstown Business Forum (GBF) fortnightly news column. We hope to engage you in looking at issues and constructive solutions to some of the problems that beset Grahamstown. GBF, under the Chairmanship of Dr Trevor Davies, aims to make Grahamstown cleaner and safer. Last month GBF staged the very successful first part of The Grahamstown Conversation where The Executive Mayor, Nomhle Gaga, expressed her support for and stressed the importance of civic engagement. We plan to continue this conversation and take it other parts of Grahamstown.
Starting with ‘Cleaner’
Getting Grahamstown cleaner and better presented is not just good for business, it will make the city pleasanter for everyone who lives here. The spin-offs for business may start with all the businesses directly engaged in the tourism sector, but actually affects every property owner as it makes the city more attractive to live in. Better maintenance also impacts on safety as unkempt and dirty streets attract crime, which will the subject of our next column.
We have started by working in partnership with Makana Municipality and others who share our agenda. GBF have funded, designed and installed new bins in Beaufort Street. The artwork was provided by students at Victoria Girls School.
Since June this year we have continued this process simply by cleaning the streets. At the same time we note broken street furniture, lights and pavements – engaging with responsible municipal departments to prioritise repairs and maintenance issues. The cleaning team is provided by Makana Municipality, ten Extended Public Works Programme young people who have made a substantial contribution by clearing over 70 skips of rubbish. We are very grateful to Mike Webber who runs Rentall Skips for providing and emptying all these skips free of charge.
As the cleaning, repairs and a few enhancements progress we aim to build the partnership and take on more ambitious projects to enhance the centre of Grahamstown. This will take time – to convince you and others that it is all of us together who can make this change.
Although our main focus is on Grahamstown centre, we are aware of the needs in other parts of town so we are sending our cleaning team to Sani Street, Joza next week. Wednesday 5th October will be a ‘Day of Action’ in this area and you are welcome to come and help for an hour or two. If you come, please would you bring your own bags, gloves and refreshments.
The cleaning project, in its current format, will run until the end of October. Progress after that date will be dependent on further agreement being reached in partnership with Makana Municipality and raising further funding. It would be helpful to see more businesses joining us, especially from the hospitality sector.
GBF is here for all businesses. We are engaged in future plans for urban regeneration, we are liaising with Makana’s town planning office, we have worked to ameliorate some of the negative impacts of the Parking Scheme introduced in March this year. We are also liaising with Rhodes University as we are very concerned about the negative impacts on employment in the town caused by protest, where it is the poor who will hit hardest.