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Municipalities should take a page out of Kouga’s book

Mayor Horatio Hendricks wants to make Kouga the safest municipality for residents and visitors
PLAYING IT SAFE: Mayor Horatio Hendricks wants to make Kouga the safest municipality for residents and visitors

For a small municipality in the Eastern Cape, Kouga is — as they say — doing the things.

Situated west of Nelson Mandela Bay, the Kouga municipality is made up of nine towns, including Jeffreys Bay, Humansdorp, the three St Francises and the farming communities of Patensie and Hankey.

Census 2011 statistics, the last official population statistics, place the population of the 2,418km² municipality at about 100,000.

Perhaps most well-known for being SA’s world-renowned surfing mecca as Jeffreys Bay is home to the popular Corona Open J-Bay, the municipality is now also fast gaining a reputation for leading innovation in addressing service delivery and other issues plaguing not just Kouga, but municipalities around the country.

Just recently, for instance, the municipality became the first in SA to launch the UrSafe personal safety app which can be activated by residents in dangerous situations by calling out a safe word or pushing a button on their cellphone.

The app, already active overseas, is designed to help keep residents safe with various built-in safety features, including voice-activated SOS, geolocated emergency response and real-time location sharing.

Once activated, the user’s location, and a live video and audio of the scenario are sent to the main dashboard at the municipality’s integrated intelligence operation centre, operated 24/7 and manned by trained operators.

But this is not the first time the municipality has engaged with international providers to provide solutions to ongoing problems.

In December 2019, the country’s first plastic road was opened in Woltemade Street, Jeffreys Bay

About 1.5 tonnes  of plastic, which is comparable to 1.8-million plastic bags, was used to make just 1km of road.

It took less than three months and addresses not just road quality and the issue of potholes, but also plastics pollution. 

“The result is a road that is more durable and also friendlier to the environment,” mayor Horatio Hendricks said at the time. 

And apart from providing solutions to perennial problems, these innovative interventions also serve as an example of what can be achieved if those responsible for running our cities think beyond their traditional way of serving residents.

Other municipalities around the country would be doing themselves — and their ratepayers — a favour by looking to Kouga for inspiration and finding novel ways to address their own challenges.



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