GEORGE NEWS - A number of residents have aired concerns that George Municipality is losing its edge when it comes to maintaining cleanliness and neatness in our streets. The general sentiment is that tidiness is especially important during the December holiday period when the city is flooded with visitors, but they say the municipality was not on par this past holiday.
Things they point out include vandalised or fallen road signs not being repaired, prolific weed growth along streets and on pavements, and litter and illegally dumped rubbish not being cleared.
Businessman Sal Marsilio says, "George looks like a garbage dump, definitely not like the capital of the Garden Route."
Wilderness Heights resident Mike Leggatt says a solution must be found to deal with illegal dumping. "Perhaps one should first determine what mentality lies behind the dumping? The municipality must come up with something new as a solution."
Some residents are willing to be involved in creating solutions.
A woman whose letter was published last year, said, "How difficult would it be to position a skip near the affected area and issue black bags for anyone that wants to earn a couple of Rand ... Issue a token for every bag collected which is redeemable from the municipality tellers..."
Another longtime resident, Colin Halgryn, thinks York Street - specifically the median - is "a total embarrassment". "Surely the first impression of the tourist in George cannot be too favourable?" Halgryn proposes that the money spent on Christmas lights each year should be used to upgrade the York Street median.
Johan van Zyl said in a letter in last week's issue that it is almost as if the municipality has closed down during the busiest time of the year when the city is bursting with holidaymakers, which places an extra burden on rubbish disposal.
According to Athane Scholtz, communications officer at the municipality, during the December holiday the volumes of waste in bins, illegal dumping and littering are extremely high and appear faster than the municipality can clean up.
Cleaning takes place as soon as possible. "It should normalise now that everyone is starting to work, the schools resume and visitors return home."
She says the municipality presents awareness programmes at schools during the year in an effort to curb the culture of littering. The public can also help by talking to those they see littering.
Regarding unwanted weeds, Scholtz says the public should take into account that the municipality was closed during the Christmas period. "Also, in summer weeds grow faster. It will be addressed as soon as possible."
She says vandals always target road signs. They are stolen, driven over on purpose, used for target shooting and painted. This behaviour seems to increase during the holiday, probably because of substance abuse and idleness.
"Road signs are replaced as funds allow. This is prioritised along main routes and dangerous crossings."
She says residents should chase away naughty children who are often the transgressors and report people driving under the influence.
"A car license and even cellphone video can help with prosecution."
Acting director of Community Services Radie Loubser says the parks section has been planting plants that need less water in certain areas, but the little rain in the recent past is problematic. More planting is planned, but not before more rain falls.
The budget for beautifying is small, but they are considering the enhancement of York Street and other medians with the help of businesses.
Report complaints to the following numbers:
- Littering and weeds: Environmental Services 044 802 2900 (82 Meade Street)
- Road signs: Civil Engineering 044 801 9262/66 (old Absa building in York Street)
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