Written by Markus Mostert and Tim Bull
28th October 2016
The constitution of the Grahamstown Business Forum specifies “to assist in facilitating a clean, safe and appealing Grahamstown Central Business District” as one of the organisation’s main aims and objectives. Focussing on the “low-hanging fruit” in 2016, the GBF, in collaboration with the Grahamstown Residents’ Association and Makana Municipality embarked on an ambitious project to clean the streets of the CBD in time for this year’s National Arts Festival.
Grahamstonions consequently woke up sometime late in June to some serious cleaning up of New Street where tons of dirt and rubbish were removed. Since then a group of 10 workers from the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) worked their way through the CBD all the way up to Bathurst Street, the effects of their labour being noticeable by residents and visitors alike.
Following the success of this initial Street Clean-Up project for Festival, the team initiated an even more brave venture to clean up other areas of our small city in a 14-week programme which is due to conclude at the end of October. This extension of the initial project saw the team tackling more streets around the city centre, the extreme mess around the Queens Street taxi rank, Sani Street in Joza and the Milner/Glastonbury/Park Road loop. For the final days the team is concentrating on painting – they’ve painted the bridge walls near Bathurst Engineering in Hill Street and are now painting kerbstones – and planting vegetation on islands in Hill and Bathurst Streets (with help from Parks Department).
The Street Clean-Up project would not have been possible without the generous donation of time, money and equipment by a small number of individuals. Richard Gaybba of the Business Forum and Tim Bull of the Residents’ Association spent an inordinate amount of time supervising the team, supplying refreshments, arranging payments for the team and canvassing support from businesses and private households. Mike Webber of RentAll has emptied at least 75 skips full of rubbish, the cost of which are valued at at least R15,000. Despite generous monetary donations from Stuart Beer of Beer Properties, James Sholto-Douglas of Pennypinchers and contributions from Mohammad Moorad and Victoria Primary School, the cost of the 3-month long clean-up project exceeded the available funding with more than R45 000. A couple of members of the GBF and GRA committees have either absorbed this cost in their personal capacities or committed to footing the bill for the outstanding balance for the City’s benefit.
Readers may very well ask why others should do the work of the Municipality – work which have already been paid for by ratepayers. As valid as these concerns are, the GBF and the GRA are confronted with the reality that the increasingly degraded streets of Grahamstown may negatively impact on both economic activity and quality of life of residents. Acknowledging that it is not easy to turn around what appears to be lack of capacity in our municipality, these two organisations wish to work with local government to create a city that is fit for business and attractive for tourists.
There is an appetite to find ways to extend the Street Clean-Up project. Business owners and private individuals who wish to see Grahamstown looking cleaner are therefore invited to support the project through direct donations or by joining the Business Forum. For more information, kindly contact Marlene Mitchener, the GBF administrator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.