2017 01 27 Active Citizenship

Written by Trevor Davies

27th January 2017

Whilst driving down Somerset Street at about 7.30 one morning I passed a woman sweeping the leaves in front of her house. At the time I had light bulb moment: if we all cleaned in front of our own homes and sorted out our own areas, there would be no dirty areas in town.

It is understandable that as ratepayers, we want value for our money and thus demand that the Municipality does its job for the rates that we pay. However, we also teach our children, once they are old enough, to clean up after themselves, even if they might have a nanny. We consider this to be a valuable life skill that needs to be learned.

In a context where our municipality is incapacitated in many ways by crippling debt and numerous other challenges, would this not be the time for us to remind ourselves that each of us can make a difference? Just imagine the impact of us going beyond our own little spaces and clean up just a little bit more … for the simple reason that we care!

The idea of taking personal responsibility and action for the benefit of wider society is not new. Our little City is fortunate to have many active citizens who initiate a wide variety of projects which range from collecting litter at the Grey dam, cleaning up Sugar Loaf Hill and closing down dumps in town, to the removal of alien vegetation from Mountain Drive. Closer to the CBD we have noticed the positive outcomes of the work of a small team of EPWP workers cleaning up streets in the latter half of last year. This year, through the passion of one young man – a newcomer in town – and his willing team of supporters, numerous illegal posters have been removed.

Another brilliant initiative – perhaps on a bigger and more economically sustainable scale – involves Integrated Waste and Recycling Services (IWARS) setting up buy-back centres for waste collection over the next few months, which, together with the waste to energy program, should show a noticeable difference to the cleanliness of the town. IWARS offers a fully integrated service that incorporates education, awareness programmes, skills development and correct implementation of collection and separation methods. At these movable shipping- container-like buy-back centres, which serve as an income generator for waste collectors, recyclable waste is sorted, baled and transported to the relevant recycling facilities.

Starting in February, the Grahamstown Business Forum will be piloting a car guarding initiative in Bathurst Street as part of our aim to keeping our City safe and clean. Once successfully implemented, this initiative will be rolled out to other parts of the CBD. In addition, the GBF has presented the Makana Municipality with a memorandum of understanding which includes an audit aimed at identifying areas where things are going well and where they can be improved upon.

These actions have inspired me. I want to nail my colours to the mast and declare that I will keep the areas around Dr Davies Optometrists in Bathurst Street and Eyestore in Allen Street clean and crime free.

Citizens of Grahamstown, we have problems. Our municipality has massive debts and numerous challenges related to infrastructure. Let us not sit back and watch our city fall into decay. Let us act today with a positive attitude and care for our City.

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