PARTNERS: Port Alfred Business Forum (PABF) president Rick Pryce (left) and Ndlambe mayor Sipho Tandani pledged support for each other at the PABF meeting at the Royal Port Alfred Golf Club last Thursday Picture: ROB KNOWLES
UNANIMOUS support was expressed for Ndlambe mayor Sipho Tandani’s plans for bulk water, sewerage and roads at the Port Alfred Business Forum’s (PABF) meeting at the Royal Port Alfred Golf Club last Thursday.
Tandani unveiled his plans, including allocated budgets and shortfalls, and said it was critical that all stakeholders participate in the decision-making process. He spoke of the challenges going forward presented in terms of funding and asked for the full support of the public.
Tandani spoke of the bulk water projects being planned for the area, and said the entire project would cost R890-million.
“We are looking for quick wins,” he told the forum.
“I remember a couple of years back, before I was mayor, when a plan was put forward to extract water from the Grahamstown area and pipe it to Port Alfred and outlying areas. The cost was in excess of R1-billion at the time and would take several years to implement. Now we have a better plan,” explained Tandani.
The bulk water plan and budget is taken from the environmental impact assessment recently produced by specialist company Cesnet, which was commissioned to assess the impact of resolving the water crisis in the area. TotT described the plans in detail in our February 17 edition.
The mayor spoke of a three-phase approach to supply Port Alfred east from the Fish River, Port Alfred itself and Port Alfred west, costing R718m, R539m and R179m respectively.
“The project on the eastern side (Alexandria) will be completed by December 2012, and the other two projects will begin in August this year,” said Tandani.
Tandani went on to say he and his team were well aware Port Alfred was the hub of the business community in Ndlambe, and that everything must be done to encourage businesses in the area.
He said Port Alfred was the drawcard, and revitalising the town was as a matter of urgency to attract new businesses to the area.
“I believe that if we continue to cut grass and clean up the cemeteries, we will encourage new business to the area.”
Tandani also said that any project must employ local labour and suppliers.
Tandani said the price of electricity was killing consumers, but that it presented the perfect opportunity to look at alternatives and renewable energy sources.
On the subject of sewage, Tandani conceded the current plant was totally inadequate and had prevented the further development of housing projects, including expansion at Thornhill, highlighting the need for an investment in this area.
As for the proposed widening of the R72, Tandani said he had read in TotT about the fears people had that widening the road would endanger lives by allowing more heavy traffic through the town.
“But I remember being told that the hills at Southwell and Albany Roads were dangerous and that something needed to be done. Now Sanral (South African National Roads Agency Limited) will be taking over the road as from April 1, and they are going to pay for the upgrades of the road. This will bring more people to our town and I want your full support,” he told the forum, who voiced agreement.
Tandani also mentioned that tolls could be implemented on the R72 closer to East London and Port Elizabeth.
“This would enable locals to travel throughout the area but ensure visitors paid,” he said.
Tandani also spoke of the need to upgrade internal roads, and proposed a concrete paver system as, he said, his councillors had established this was the most cost-effective way of resolving the problem.
He also pointed out that new plant would be required to fix the roads as most of the equipment was over 20 years old.
After his address PABF president Rick Pryce said Ndlambe was lucky to have a man like Tandani as mayor.
Pryce then spoke of the lights on the Nico Malan Bridge which, having been switched off due to several globes failing, required a new strategy.
“We plan to take down the vertical lights on the poles as several globes have burned out and there are no replacements available. We will then use these globes to replace the ones that remain,” he said.