St Francis residents launch SOS

Herald Reporter

FUMING residents of St Francis Bay, one of the Eastern Cape’s holiday hotspots, have launched a campaign highlighting potentially disastrous problems facing their seaside village.

The SaveOurStFrancis (SOS) initiative, spearheaded by a group of young businesswomen, aims to “unite all those who love St Francis in showing their disappointment in the apathy of the… mayor and municipal manager”, spokeswoman Jacky Hay said.

The unique holiday town has been rocked by a series of issues, including recurring potholes, inadequate sewerage systems or storm water drainage, flooding, lack of maintenance of tarred roads, deteriorating or non-existent beach toilet facilities and poor service delivery to the impoverished Sea Vista community.

The Kouga Municipality was failing dismally at providing the town with basic and essential services, Hay said.

“Their service delivery is poor to non-existent, the budget is not realistic and the available funds are being misspent. The auditor-general’s report of 2011, the Gobodo forensic report and the KPMG forensic report all show gross misspending and corruption.

“The municipality is also unwilling to recognise the issues or respond to feedback and questions from the St Francis Bay Residents’ Association (SFBRA).”

The mayor, Booi Koerat, recently cancelled his fact-finding visit to St Francis Bay and neighbouring Sea Vista for “no reason” and had not rescheduled.

“Formal and informal attempts by the SFBRA to meet the municipality have achieved nothing,” Hay said.

SOS founder Louise Niven said the only way to motivate the municipality was by highlighting problems through “all forms of media available to us”, since other forms of formal communication had “been futile”.

Backed by the SFBRA, SOS bills itself as a community initiative that is not for profit and is apolitical.

SOS will use social media tool Facebook to highlight concerns and update residents and the public about any new developments.

A Facebook page was created on August 21 and has already proved popular, Niven said. Residents have been asked to share stories, pictures and videos “so that we can clearly illustrate the problems we need to solve”.

Residents were also being encouraged to join the association, as membership fees were necessary for forthcoming legal action against the municipality.

Only 745 out of 4500 property owners are members.

The association has organised a service delivery march on the Kouga Council offices tomorrow.

Municipal spokeswoman Laura-Leigh Randall was unable to comment last night, but said the municipality was aware of the association’s concerns and the march.

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