PLETTENBERG BAY NEWS - In the early hours of this morning, the joint operational command team responsible for the day to day management of the riots in Bitou, met to consider the status quo of the N2 closure.
According to the press release:
"Exhausting all the possible scenarios, implications and the risks thereof, the decision was then taken by the relevant authorities present to reroute all traffic back to the N2. This then effectively opened the N2 again for safe, unhindered passage to all vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians.
"The context that informed this decision along with other operational considerations, was the undertakings and conditions that emerged during a late afternoon public engagement on Friday, 5 July 2019, between the political office-bearers and councillors of the ruling coalition in Bitou Municipality, accompanied by the municipal manager, Advocate Lonwabo Ngoqo and the leadership and community of Qolweni, who had been protesting since the evening of 2 July 2019. Representing the governing coalition were councillor Msimbothi Lobese (Executive Mayor), councillor Sandiso Gcabayi (Deputy Mayor, ward 6 councillor), Alderman Euan Wildeman (Speaker), councillor Mphakamisi Mbali (member of the Mayoral Committee, ward 5 councillor), councillor Xola Matyila (ward 3 councillor) and councillor Nomhiki Jacob (PR).
"The engagement was primarily facilitated by an official of the provincial office of the SAHRC (South African Human Rights Commission), supported by facilitation by various other local role players, to whom Bitou will forever remain indebted.
"The agreement and undertakings includes amongst others the following;
1 The Qolweni community to suspend the protest action;
2. Establishment of a community liaison committee that will engage with the municipality on service delivery issues emanating from ward 3 (Qolweni),
3 Facilitation by the South African Human Rights Commission of the discussions on service delivery between the parties,
4. Drafting of a Programme of Action by the SAHRC;
5. Monitoring of the implementation of the Programme of Action by the SAHRC; and finally
6. Regular public feedbacks to keep the Qolweni community and all relevant stakeholders abreast of progress.
"The joint operations command, bolstered by the engagement, took a bold decision to request SANRAL and Bitou with its service providers to start cleaning the N2 and affected municipal roads, to remove debris, barricades and any obstructions. Importantly SAPS maintained high levels of visibility at all the hotspots, supported by provincial traffic, Bitou Public Safety (Fire Department, Law Enforcement, Traffic) and volunteers from the local security industry.
"In an additional and welcoming development to the unfolding processes; a community meeting hosted by the New Horizons Concerned Citizens Forum, church and other community leaders, unanimously resolved against any further involvement in protest action, in favour of peaceful engagements with Bitou municipality to raise the service delivery issues/ demands, related to the ward 4 community (New Horizons). This meeting was held at 7pm on Friday, 5 July 2019.
"The decision to reroute traffic back to the N2, also has the following implications;
1. Essential services to be expanded; services which remained operational during the riots;
2. Customer Care services fully operational effective Saturday, 6 July 2019; and
3. A return to business as usual in full on Monday, 8 July 2019 with all hands on deck.
"Bitou Municipality extends its heartfelt condolences to the families who lost their loved ones during the tragic accident of an Eagle Liner bus, on Friday, 5 July 2019, on the Robberg/ Airport road. Equally Bitou wishes a speedy recovery to all the passengers still hospitalized with injuries sustained during the accident. Bitou is also grateful for the Plett Community Church, which took in and attended to the 23 passengers, with no injuries. The tragic accident casts a rather grim picture over the events of the past few days.
"Bitou welcomes the arrests that has been made already and again call on anyone with information pertaining to criminal acts committed during the riots, to present such to the law enforcement agencies and we urge these authorities to deal with these cases with the full might of the law.
"Finally, whilst we have an interim reprieve from the events of the past few days that at some stages sought to divide us, we make an urgent call to all Plettonians, to commit afresh to the values that makes us a good place to live and work and a destination of choice for local and foreign visitors alike. Let us also unite in action to assist those affected by losses and trauma during this week, to rebuild their lives towards a semblance of what it was prior to the unfortunate event.
"For all service delivery enquiries, please call Bitou Customer Care at 044 501 3174/ 3175."
Read previous articles:
- Plett unrest: 81 Arrested
- Plett unrest: 59 Arrested
- Update: N2 at Plett remains closed
- Protest paralyse Plett again
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