GEORGE NEWS - The George Community Forum (GCF) is planning another march next month and this one won't necessarily be peaceful. This was the warning from Castro Leholo, GCF's secratary at a media briefing on Tuesday after they received George Municipality's response to the memorandum they handed over during a march on 14 March.
The march related to service delivery issues, the roll-out of phase 4 of GO GEORGE and the alleged harassment of the taxi industry by the traffic authorities, among others.
Addressing the media, Leholo said they have tried their best to get the attention of the municipality and resolve these issues. "However, they are not even trying to meet us halfway." Leholo said they are now planning a bigger protest for 26 April, with or without the municipality's approval. He said this march will be a breaking point and that the forum cannot guarantee that it will be peaceful.
"This march will display the anger that the municipality is provoking and we will leave things to the anger of the masses," he warned.
Among the matters the forum wanted the municipality to address was alleged victimisation of the taxi industry, to which the municipality responded: "Should the reference 'victimisation' refer to regulatory oversight and traffic law enforcement actions, then it should be noted that the responsible government departments are obligated to ensure that law and order is maintained on the roads and operating licences adhered to [...] It is against the law for any traffic officer or law enforcement official to intimidate or victimise any member of the public..."
On the impoundment of taxis, the municipality responded, "The law prescribes impoundment and obligates the traffic officer under the correct circumstances to impound public transport vehicles that are found to be operating contrary to their permit conditions...."
One of the main issues the forum was marching for was the upgrade of the Nelson Mandela Boulevard in Thembalethu, which has been left half completed, and the Thembalethu bridge which causes major traffic congestion during peak hours. Leholo said the municipality didn't give them a proper response on this matter, instead it has blamed the contractor that has abandoned the site before completing the work, which led to the municipality terminating the contract with the contractor.
Leholo added that the municipality should take responsibility for the failure of this project. "The George Municipality should take full responsibility for this road as it has caused many inconveniences for the people of Thembalethu. The road is worse than before," he said.
The municipality's response on the widening of the Thembalethu bridge reads, "The cost to widen the existing Thembalethu / N2 bridge is significant and Sanral has committed to a 50% cost sharing for this project. The municipality has submitted various applications over a number of years in an attempt to secure funding..."
Leholo dismissed this response saying Thembalethu is not a priority to the George Municipality. "The Pacaltsdorp bridge was constructed and completed and also widened without any problems, but when it comes to Thembalethu we are told that there are all sorts of challenges," he said.
'We bring you the latest George, Garden Route news'