HOEKWIL NEWS - Kindhearted residents of Hoekwil recently learned that a community project in Touwsranten, where they had invested R15 000, has been all in vain.
Residents assisted a community initiative called The Give Zone, to beautify a crèche housed in containers.
Unfortunately the containers did not belong to George Municipality, and were collected last week by the owners, since the two-year lease contract had expired.
According to Laurell Pelser, who runs The Give Zone in Hoekwil, they started last year with various projects to uplift the lives of the residents of Touwsranten. Pelser is highly upset with what seems like miscommunication from the municipality, costing residents R15 000 and a week of hard work.
"The local crèche resembled a prison, had broken windows, a playground that was unfit for kids, toilets with doors hanging off and no shade," said Pelser. "We painted the containers in fun bright colours, fixed the doors and windows, leveled the playground and planted various indigenous and fruit trees. All this was done through Hoekwil residents' donating and hard work."
She said it took a really long time to equip the classrooms with electricity. "Since we did it, no kids have attended it as we had lockdown. Last week I saw the crèche being emptied and was told it's because the people who own it are coming to collect it.
"I spoke to Marlene Barnardt, our ward councillor who we got permission from to fix it up, and she said she was unaware that they were on hire."
Pelser said she has since started to draft a letter to Premier Alan Winde. "What's the point of trying to help and make our communities a better place if the municipality does whatever they like without consultation?" she asked.
"I offered to look at paying the difference if the municipality paid the vendor for the ones that are there. I was told no."
Director of Human Settlements Charles Lubbe said the municipality decided not to extend the lease as it was not economically viable in the long term and to instead buy its own containers.
"It would be more cost-effective, maintained by the municipality and installed with electricity," said Lubbe. "It appears that there was a lack of communication regarding the upgrading of the containers and we apologise for this."
Ward Councillor Marlene Barnardt said the municipality often works closely with Pelser, who is a stalwart in the community and whose efforts are deeply appreciated.
"While it would have been wonderful for the children to have experienced the beautifully upgraded containers, it did not belong to the municipality and supply chain management regulations are very strict regarding acquisition of assets, which is why the suggestion of buying the old container could not be accommodated," said Barnardt.
"The municipality has already made paint and staff available to beautify the new containers when they arrive and we hope that The Give Zone will consider joining us in future projects at this special crèche."
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