Addressing the state of Newcastle through the eyes of the municipality

Mayor, Makhosini Nkosi during the 2018 SOTA and Budget Speech.

Residents can expect rates increases heading into the new financial year.

During last Tuesday’s State of the Town Address (SOTA), Mayor, Makhosini Nkosi proposed increases of eight per cent (electricity), 7.2 per cent (property, water, sanitation, refuse) and 10 per cent on other sources.

ALSO READ: #SOTA2018: What you need to know about the Budget Speech

Thus residents contribute 80 per cent of future revenue.

Cllr Nkosi said that to fund the operating expenditure, the Draft Budget appropriated funding revenue of R1.8-billion.

This amount included R368.8-million from government grants.

“While we acknowledge these tariffs are slightly above the projected inflation rate, the increases are however necessary for the municipality to provide minimum levels of service delivery.”

Tuesday’s event was open to the public, although the Speaker of Newcastle Local Council, Jabulile Khumalo emphasised it was still a special council meeting.

Bishop Eric Dhlomo formally opened the event with scripture and prayer.Cllr Khumalo explained the municipality was mandated to include public participation in its budgetary processes, before she welcomed Cllr Nkosi to the podium.

He in turn extended a welcome to dignitaries present.

“Madam Speaker, this is my second concept Budget as the Mayor of Newcastle, and it is again my privilege and humility that I present this Budget to you and to the public.”

Cllr Nkosi admitted the compilation of the 2018/2019 Draft Budget was a complex assignment, and believed its final outcome would inspire hope in Newcastillians.

“[The Draft Budget] seeks to address the needs of our communities as far as possible, despite limited financial resources.”

1. Development Planning and Human Settlements

In terms of city planning, Cllr Nkosi noted the following:

The preparation of the Spatial Development Framework Plan for the municipality was in line with the fourth generation Integrated Development Plan (IDP)

Completion of the proposed Medical Precinct Plan would contribute to the creation of sites, promoting development and investment opportunities for Newcastle

The first amendment to the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act (SPLUMA) by-laws would strengthen efforts in dealing enforcement in land usage

Cllr Nkosi said the municipality continued to deal with problems of residents building illegally and on areas such as flood plains.

Key focus areas for 2018/2019 include:

2. Prioritising finalisation of the Airport Precinct Plan

Prioritising the unlocking of land in the Equarand area – Cllr Nkosi said there were many prime sites available for development

Fast-tracking planning of Entertainment Destination Places – this project is expected to create amusement parks, conference centres and weir development in the Richview area

Undertaking a feasibility study for the establishment of a Newcastle university

Resuscitating the Madadeni and oSizweni taxi ranks.

“Economic development in our district has not been showing the desired level and rapid pace of development. Newcastle is no doubt the economic hub for the KwaZulu-Natal North West region.”

To stimulate this development, Cllr Nkosi said the following had been achieved:

Completion of the revamped Newcastle Airport Terminal Building/ Techno Hub (R24-million)

Finalising the Draft SMME (Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises) Preferential Procurement Policy

Hosting of the Provincial Tourism Month as the Amajuba District

Revision of the Newcastle Local Economic Development (LED) strategy

“We also want to see Newcastle Growth Coalition becoming more active once again in our quest for economic development.”

3. Technical Services

Cllr Nkosi said the municipality continued to roll out infrastructure development, with 180 households provided with electricity in Charlestown.

He added a key focus area would be electricity for 1 250 households at Siyahlala-la.

In mentioning the delays in local road projects, Cllr Nkosi said urban access roads were being built in Madadeni and oSizweni.

These are all said to be multi-year projects.

“We all know the state of our roads…We have allocated a budget for road resealing and re-graveling, though this is just a drop in the ocean.”

On the topic of water provision, Cllr Nkosi noted the ongoing problems with ageing and rotten infrastructure, but said the municipality was ‘working on it’.

He listed some completed projects in this regard:

WCDM (Water Conservation Demand Management) in oSizweni, comprised of the installation of pressure reducing valves, internal leak repairs and meter replacement

Ngagane Water Treatment Plant upgrade – a bulk water supply storage tank has also been installed

Stafford Hill Waterborne Sewage project

Newcastle East Water Supply Extension – this affects Dicks, Mndozo and Blaauwbosch

4. Community Services

In addition to talk of the Newcastle Library, Cllr Nkosi mentioned provision of R370 000 from MEC for Arts, Culture, Sport and Recreation, Bongi Sithole-Moloi, for the construction of a Modular Library in Ward Seven.

He confirmed also the Charlestown Hall would be handed over soon.

Cllr Nkosi made additional mention of so-called haunted projects – such as the Madadeni Swimming Pool – which never seemed to be completed.

“We are taking these matters seriously and are considering a detailed investigation that will enable us to complete these projects.”

The municipality has also considered taking over licensing functions from the Provincial Road Traffic Inspectorate (RTI), to the tune of R1-million.

Procurement of a Parking Management System has concluded as well.

Cllr Nkosi said the Parks and Recreation division would extend its services to the Blaauwbosch, Johnstone and Cavan areas.

“We intend to utilise community co-ops to carry out his project. It is also a way of job creation.”

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You can also email our offices on Reveshni Douglas at [email protected] or [email protected] Bruce Douglas at [email protected] Tersia Gopi at [email protected] Zianne Leibrandt at [email protected]

 

  AUTHOR
Bruce Douglas
Journalist

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