ACTING EXECUTIVE MAYOR GIVES AN UPDATE ON THE QOLWENI PROTESTS
Issued on the 15 June 2021
For Immediate Release
Once more, some of the residents from the Qolweni Community have taken to the streets to protest. This action has seen the National Road, “N2” being closed by the protestors. This action by the protestors do not only cause malicious damage to properties but it also affects the town’s economy and image. Moreover, it threatens the lives of innocent people. Worse, some of the people whose lives are threatened have nothing to do with our own misunderstandings as the residents of Plettenberg Bay.
The protest is due to the delays in the implementation of the Qolweni housing project. The committee is informed of the reasons for the delays because they have been in consultation with the Administrators of the Bitou Municipality and the Western Cape Provincial Department of Human Settlements.
Last year, Ukhana Project Pty, was appointed through a transparent tender process as a contractor for the Qolweni 169 Housing Development. However, a few months after its appointment, the community started to raise concerns about the performance of the contractor (Ukhana Projects). The Bitou Municipality concurred with this view because through its performance monitoring processes the trend of non-performance was evident.
This resulted in the community submitting a petition to the Bitou Municipality to replace this contractor because it was failing. The Municipal Manager, Advocate Ngoqo, then instructed the Consultant for the Housing Project, Chauke Consulting Pty Ltd, to do due diligence and make a recommendation pertaining to this call by the community. The Consultant after doing the due diligence made a recommendation to replace the Contractor. The Bitou Municipality then implemented the recommendation from the Consultant and asked the Provincial Department of Human Settlements to assist with the replacement of the Contractor.
However, a company which claims to be an associate of the Contractor, Hammond and Hammond Inc., took the both the Provincial Department and the Bitou Municipality to court on this matter. The case will be heard in the High Court on the 15 June 2021.
Yesterday a meeting was held with this leadership at about 15h45 in order to find a solution that would end the protest and ensure that the N2 is opened. The conclusion of the meeting was that a meeting be called on the 16 June 2021 at 09h00 where the MEC for Human Settlements in the Western Cape, Mr. Tertuis Simmers, Acting Mayor of the Bitou Municipality, Cllr Sandiso Gcabayi, Ward 3 Councillor, Mr. Xola Matyila, as well as Senior Officials of both institutions will engage with the Leadership. We were also given assurance that the N2 will be opened.
The Municipal Manager informed the meeting that he has consulted the Head of Department and that she will inform the MEC about this demand and will confirm. We left the meeting with the understanding that the protest will be suspended and that the Leadership will consult with members of the community.
We were surprised that the protest flared up within an hour after we engaged with them and they informed us that they would suspend the protest and not interfere with the operations on the N2.
We are in support of the right of peaceful protest but as soon as the protest becomes violent and threatens the lives and properties of others then the law must intervene and takes its course. Both the Bitou Municipality and the Provincial Department of Human Settlements are committed to ensure that this project is implemented to the benefit of the people of Qolweni. We hope that people are not using the emotions of the people to stir up unnecessary riots to fulfill their own personal and political interests.
The municipality will continue with its efforts to find a lasting solution to this matter and bring an end to the current situation.
Circulated by: Bitou Communications on Behalf of the Acting Executive Mayor, Councillor Sandiso GcabayiLast published 15 June 2021