Helenvale community centre opening goes smoothly

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THROUGH a NMBM council mandate, the MBDA took on the responsibilities of what was then the Helenvale Urban Renewal Programme (HURP) and with it the redevelopment of the old resource/ community centre. Throughout this process, the MBDA has received the support and cooperation of the Helenvale community.

A development programme advisory committee was also elected by the community to liaise directly with the MBDA on various aspects of the development. The community of Helenvale has up to now never protested against the developments championed by the MBDA and the launch of the centre on October 15 was no different.

It is misleading to report the community of Helenvale were “irate” at the MBDA as the sub-heading reads “Irate residents take shine off celebrations” (“We don’t want food – we want work!”, October 16). This statement is meant to create the impression that the people of Helenvale led these demonstrations or they actively orchestrated them.

It was in fact a small group of SMMEs of less than 50 who arrived during the proceedings who were not representative of the local community. Community members on their way to attend the opening of the Helenvale Resource Centre found themselves in the midst of a small group of SMMEs near the main gate.

The majority of the leaders of this SMME group are not residents of Helenvale or surrounding areas.

Nearly 2000 Helenvale community members embraced this launch in a peaceful manner. There was no disturbance to any part of the proceedings inside the main hall (600 people) or the tent (1200 people).

Some 200 school children from Helenvale participated at this event and more than 50 Helenvale artists performed as part of the entertainment programme. Some 50 volunteers from non-governmental organisations in Helenvale were marshals.

All the invitations and flyers distributed by the MBDA and the advisory committee made no mention of food as an enticement. No member of the community was going to be turned away unless it was for safety reasons (space).

It is then difficult to understand how one media title chose to focus on a side show, an attention seeking business group dominated by people from outside Helenvale and make as though they represented the views of the entire community. It is difficult to fathom how the event got “marred” as one headline put it, when every planned item on the agenda went according to the plan, uninterrupted.

The MBDA management team dealt with the small group of SMMEs quickly through talking and engagingand agreed to a follow-up meeting.

It is sad for one media title to take focus away from the real people of Helenvale and their moment of celebration and pride.

Regarding SMMEs, the MBDA is fully behind the principle of empowering small and emerging contractors. The agency implements the NMBM’s supply chain management policy.

Recently the NMBM, in consultation with a number of SMME groups, developed a SMME list of verifiable companies in the city. The MBDA is fully engaged in that process and recently received the list from the NMBM.

The MBDA is developing mechanisms that will see the agency plan to exceed the minimum threshold of 30% participation by SMMEs. The agency will continue to work together with the concerned SMME groups as we have been doing to come to a reasonable conclusion.

It is however concerning that SMMEs in the city are largely divided. The agency finds itself talking to different groups every other week and that makes it difficult to make progress.

We therefore welcome the new SMME formation, the Metro Pro-Active Front, which we hope is fully representative of all SMMEs in Nelson Mandela Bay.

The illegal interruption of construction sites cannot be condoned. These delays impact the agency and the city’s delivery immensely.

These delays drive the cost of construction up and, unfortunately, ratepayers’ resources that could and should be used elsewhere are called upon. The MBDA will have no choice but to resort to law enforcement agencies tasked with ensuring that further such interruptions are prevented.

Luvuyo Bangazi, marketing and communications manager, MBDA

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