Regarding town planning and human settlements, sadly, several developers I have spoken to have been too fearful to speak out for fear that they may ruin their chances of having their plans passed.
I am beyond caring as I cannot stand by and be affected by the current inefficiency.
Four years ago, after waiting for two years for rezoning on a potential small office development, I wrote a similar letter complaining about how slow the ANC-led council was in confirming or amending development and zoning.
At that time it was a miracle if the human settlements committee, tasked with zonings and development, met three times a year.
It was a miracle if it passed zonings twice a year.
Not much was happening and development in Port Elizabeth was being stifled.
The knock-on effect is that fewer jobs get created, developers go elsewhere and illegal developments take place.
I gave up on my small office conversion and invested my money in Kenya.
Now, four years later, I thought that with a DA-led government coming into the metro, as well as a competent new municipal manager, that things might change and development or plans might be passed a bit faster.
How wrong I was – 20 months later and we have still not heard a single thing from council or the human settlements committee!
Obviously, before anything even happens the metro demands an upfront cash amount for any idea/plan to be considered or for properties to be rezoned, but it then sits on the plans and does not pass them.
I am not sure about what the Consumer Protection Act says about this, but why are we paying for and accepting these continued low standards?
Mr Mayor, your executive committee and the municipal manager, there is low-hanging fruit that you can easily pluck that will open up massive development and show quick change.
Development and job creation are not usually low-hanging fruit, but in this case, you can easily convert this current lemon into a lemonade by ensuring that the human settlements committee possibly meets more often, and processes zonings, developments and plans a lot more efficiently.
Prioritise this now because otherwise people will continue to get tired of what appears to be a “closed for business” policy and will simply invest or go elsewhere.
It is that simple, guys. Good luck and let’s hope that we can see some tangible progress.