Colchester residents are tired of “talk shops” and want to know when the municipality is going to deliver on plans laid out at a number of public participation meetings about the Integrated Development Plan (IDP).
Yesterday saw the start of a new series of IDP meetings for the 2017-18 financial year, where high-ranking municipal officials meet residents all over Nelson Mandela Bay to discuss pressing issues and budget allocation within the metro’s wards.
Last night’s meeting in Colchester, led by mayoral committee members John Best (safety and security) and Rano Kayser (roads and transport) and Ward 53 councillor Nomazulu Mthi, nearly descended into chaos due to arguments between residents and security officials.
Order was restored and the meeting adjourned shortly afterwards.
The main issues raised centred around housing, infrastructure development and much-needed jobs.
Many residents also raised their concern over access to the Sundays River and the nearby beach, as the main access route is supposedly privately owned and they have to pay to gain access.
Resident Godfrey Jacobs, 30, said this was the third meeting he had attended and, to date, the municipality had delivered no results.
“All you do is talk, and talk, and talk. We have raised these issues many times before, and now you want us to do the same thing again. When are you coming to us with solutions to these problems?” he asked.
Kevin Foster, 50, asked when members of the metro police and other emergency services would be deployed in Colchester as crime, accidents and wildfires were concerns.
The officials promised that these issues would receive attention soon.
Earlier in the day, proposals by ANC councillors to postpone the planned public participation process were shot down as mayor Athol Trollip said the city had already planned to go ahead with the process this week.
Councillors met at the Woolboard building to discuss the planned meetings with Trollip, and ANC councillors complained that the meetings were not properly publicised and that many residents would be away prior to the Easter holiday.
They proposed that the meetings be moved to next week.
ANC councillor Sizwe Jodwana said: “This week is Holy Week and our people have gone to churches. These meetings will be poorly attended.”
But Trollip said it was not possible to postpone the meetings.
“I accept this is Holy Week but this programme was planned ahead, and there is a break between April 14 and 19. So, for that actual religious period [there is] no meeting,” Trollip said.
Deputy mayor Mongameli Bobani urged unity among the councillors.
“[We] must be united when we face our communities. When we are back in council, we can fight with each other.”