No welcome just a sign of the times

The town’s broken-down welcome sign

Welcome where?

This is the question irate Uitenhage residents are asking after signs at three of the four entrances to the town were defaced several months ago, with all yet to be repaired.

Uitenhage’s northern entrance, into Vanes Estate, was targeted by a prankster who spray-painted the word “Gotham” in blue over the top half of the bold black lettering, which reads “Welcome to”.

The lower half, bearing the word “Uitenhage”, was removed several months ago.

At the southern entrance, from Rocklands, the cemented centre block of the “Welkom in Uitenhage” sign has been destroyed.

The incident had been reported to the municipality several weeks ago, according to Ward 51 councillor Pieter Terblanche.

Niven’s Bridge, which serves as the eastern entrance, near Volkswagon SA, is also in a fragile state with pieces of guard rail missing from the bridge and piles of litter scattered along the river below.

“I am aware of the situation and I have reported to it to the municipality. While I have not received exact dates as to when those entrance signs will be attended to, I have been told that it is on the municipality’s to-do list,” Terblanche said.

“It’s something I hope will be attended to soon as it has been in that state for quite some time.”

Uitenhage resident Carol-Ann Wilson said she was saddened by the municipality’s approach to the Garden Town. “It’s no secret Uitenhage has been neglected ever since the area became a metro. But I mean, in this instance it [welcome signs] is the first impression of the town that is tainted.

“If the first thing you see as a visitor is a broken or spray-painted sign, you have already made up your mind as to the state of the town and its people,” Wilson said.

Her sentiments were echoed by another Uitenhage resident, Alfred Jacobs, who said: “This ‘Welcome to Uitenhage’ sign [at the southern entrance] used to be a nice place where families would come out and have Sunday braais, which gave visitors that homely feeling as they entered.

“Now it’s just a dirt road leading to a broken sign and I think it’s time a new sign is made saying ‘Welcome to Nelson Mandela Bay’, illustrating the development which has taken place. Instead, this makes us seem like a backward town.”

Municipal spokesman Mthubanzi Mniki said: “The municipality will be sending officials to inspect the damage, count the cost and source budget to fix it. It is encouraged that residents report damage to municipal property to their ward councillor so that they can be dealt with ASAP.”

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