Bus plan thrown into disarray

Posted Leave a commentPosted in News, Uncategorized

Sbongile Dimbaza and Mawande Jack HERALD REPORTERS

CONSTRUCTION of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system in Nelson Mandela Bay has been thrown into disarray following new demands by taxi associations.

Operators want the project to be completely redesigned to allow taxis free reign in the city and that new bus lanes be built in certain areas, including Uitenhage and Motherwell.

The transport system, which is a national project and a Fifa prerequisite for all cities hosting World Cup matches next year, has been the cause of a series of transport strikes that have crippled the city during the past four months.

Last week, taxi associations called off the strike after the municipality agreed to negotiate on a possible redesign of the BRT system.

The radical new demands follow a meeting between the municipality and taxi associations on Monday, at which they presented a redesigned plan.

A dedicated BRT committee has until March 2 to study its impact.

Any change of plan is bound to further delay the key 2010 project, which is already behind schedule.

The taxi industry wants both bus and taxi operators to have equal access to BRT infrastructure in the central business district (CBD).

The associations also oppose the idea that they be “feeders” to buses.

Port Elizabeth and District Taxi Association chairman Melekile Hani said they had also suggested that dedicated bus lanes be incorporated in the plan for areas like Motherwell, Uitenhage, Stanford Road and Kempston Road to curb congestion.

“But nothing much was discussed regarding the regulation of the industry and other key areas we are in opposition to. The municipality has agreed to pay, on our behalf, for the drawing up of a business and operational plan.”

Municipal spokesman Kupido Baron confirmed the taxi bodies had submitted their report, but alterations could always be integrated into the current BRT plan. “If the situation constitutes that extra manpower should be brought in to meet the deadline, we will do exactly that.”

However, the municipality could not say when the project would be completed or how far behind schedule it was.

On Monday night, taxi representatives faced the wrath of residents at a meeting organised by the SA National Civics Organisation (Sanco).

Taxi operators were grilled and forced to publicly apologise by angry Motherwell residents for the hardships caused to commuters during last week‘s strike.

Some even insisted Hani be called to the meeting to be reprimanded.

Transport was disrupted and two clinics in Motherwell were also destroyed by fire during the strike.

A Motherwell community leader, Mxolisi Mani, insisted that the taxi representatives give the public reasons for the destruction of their facilities.

“Why must it be us the people who suffer?” he asked. “Why, each time there is a taxi strike, must it be the poor people who are the victims?”

The meeting, attended by councillors, political parties and civic bodies, saw sparks fly as residents threatened to boycott the taxi industry, which they described as being “infiltrated by thugs”.

The situation, which could have got out of hand, was saved by the arrival of councillor Fikile Desi, who urged the residents to “also understand the plight facing the taxi operators, who see the BRT as a means of forcing them out business”.

“Taxi operators are asking for forgiveness. They did that by cutting last Friday‘s taxi fares by half. We should instead say that the next time there is a strike, we should be consulted and that we do not want to see any violence,” Desi said.

Sanco chairman Toni Duba moved the attention of the residents away from the taxi drivers to mayor Nondumiso Maphazi, who he said had failed to attend the meeting although she had been invited.

“We wanted the mayor to come and address the residents. All the problems surrounding the whole BRT system have been caused by her,” said Duba.

In Johannesburg, Transport MEC Ignatius Jacobs said the BRT system would be introduced in Gauteng in time for the Confederations Cup kick-off in Johannesburg on June 14, despite opposition from taxi owners.

Jacobs said taxi owners had been included in the BRT planing process with the City of Johannesburg for the past two years.

“Now, at the stage of implementation, they are asking us to hold on?”

source The Herald

2010 Soccer Sout Africa Are We Ready?

Posted Leave a commentPosted in News, Uncategorized

Johannesburg – Pretoria stadium Loftus Versfeld will become the first of 10 venues for the 2010 World Cup to open for action when it hosts a Premier Soccer League match on Saturday.

The stadium’s renovation has been completed, including the installation of a new roof on one of its four stands, ahead of the World Cup finals next year, South African organising committee officials said on Wednesday.

Its capacity has been increased from 45,000 to 50,000.

The venue, first built in 1906, is also one of four stadiums to be used for the Confederations Cup, the eight-team warm-up event to be hosted in South Africa from June 14-28.

Renovations at the other three venues — Ellis Park in Johannesburg and stadiums in Bloemfontein and Rustenburg — were supposed to be completed last year but are still weeks away from being operational, officials said.

Loftus Versfeld will host Saturday’s match between Kaizer Chiefs and Moroka Swallows. It is also the home ground of rugby’s Blue Bulls and is the venue for a test between the touring British Lions and South Africa’s Springboks on June 27.

The six other 2010 World Cup stadiums are due to be completed by the end of this year.     source sports 24

The Nelson Mandela Bay municipality is confident that the stadium in Port Elizabeth will be complete by the March 2009 deadline set by Fifa, after the city’s readiness to host the 2009 Confederations Cup was brought into question earlier this year.

“Although the initial target set for completion of the stadium was set for December 2008, it has been extended to March 2009 and we are on track,” Nelson Mandela Bay municipality’s 2010 World Cup executive director Errol Heynes told fellow host city representatives, the French Trade Commission and members from the French Embassy in Port Elizabeth on Monday.

Heynes said outstanding development included roadwork around the stadium, the general finishing off of the west wing, insulation of information technology (IT) items, and landscaping and fencing.

The municipality will host eight matches during the world cup at the 48 000-seater stadium, which is situated about one kilometre from the beach front and right on the banks of a lake, which he said.

This allowed for enormous potential for growth and development, he said.

“We see the stadium as a catalyst for the building of a new economic node in the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality,” Heynes said, adding the World Cup would significantly benefit small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) in terms of job creation, economic and skills development.

Public transport legacy

As for creating a public transport system capable of dealing with the influx of thousands of visitors, Heynes said the municipality would procure 450 buses as well as 2 000 mini-buses for the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) system, which involves the creation of a dedicated bus lane within the city.

To avoid creating tension with existing taxi bosses, the municipality came up with a unique idea of giving taxi organisations ownership in the BRT system in order to avoid people losing their livelihood and in the interests of harmonising existing business with infrastructure development.

Five road projects in and around Port Elizabeth have been completed, and a tender has been put out for an access road project, while a public transport operations plan was also firmly in place.

Heynes pointed out that some of the challenges facing the municipality included the limited number of contractors within the municipality, securing environmental impact assessments for projects and capacity constraints in the delivery of the BRT system.

Source: BuaNews

More than 7 000 chickens were slaughtered

Posted Leave a commentPosted in News, Uncategorized

More than 7 000 chickens were slaughtered at St Alabans Correctional Services, Uitenhage after they were found starving, said the SPCA on Friday.

SPCA Uitenhage Inspector Mariska Herselman said she responded to an anonymous call alleging that chickens were starving at the centre on Thursday. She said what she found was “shocking and horrendous”.

“Chickens had been without food for so long that they were eating their own feathers and flesh, having already eaten the shavings in their enclosures and were beginning to eat themselves and each other in desperation,” she said in a statement.

“It was obvious that large numbers of chickens had to be slaughtered to put them out of their misery. I saw chickens with their insides hanging out – such was their desperation to eat.”

She said the correctional services facility has chicken houses and its own on-site chicken abattoir.
“As a result of the horrific findings, 7400 chickens were emergency-slaughtered.”

Herselman said she re-visited the facility on Friday and confirmed that the two-week-old chicks had food.

“It was claimed by personnel at the facility that food was due to be delivered during the day. The SPCA Uitenhage inspector will remain on the premises to check that food is delivered.”

She said criminal charges would be laid. – Sapa

Source I O L

Taxi bodies to discuss 2010 transport today

Posted Leave a commentPosted in News, Uncategorized

TAXI associations will meet the Integrated Public Transport Steering Committee in Port Elizabeth today to discuss their preferred design to facilitate the loading and offloading of passengers.

The meeting comes after the municipality and taxi associations agreed last week that the Bus Rapid Transit system would be redesigned to accommodate all modes of transport instead of only buses.

PE and District Taxi Association chairman Melekile Hani said the taxi association did not want to be restricted to certain areas in the city.

The associations would also meet a business expert to draft a business and operational plan that would be submitted to the municipality.

Other issues still needing to be discussed included the collection of fares, permits, and the choosing of the appropriate type of entity, for example co-operatives.

Municipal spokesman Kupido Baron said negotiations with the taxi association were ongoing. Construction on the BRT was continuing.

This follows an agreement between the municipality, taxi associations, the department of transport, the PE Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Algoa Bus Company.

The SACP‘s Zukile Jodwana said redesigning the BRT did not mean all construction would stop for a new design, but all relevant stakeholders would look at options for accommodating both taxis and buses, using the same infrastructure.

Eastern Cape Roads and Transport MEC Gloria Barry said at the weekend that, should the strike resume, the conditions of taxi operating permits would be looked into.

Operators who had been arrested and those whose taxis had been impounded would find their permits withdrawn.

Source The Herald

Three men were stabbed to death

Posted Leave a commentPosted in News, Uncategorized

Three men were stabbed to death in three different incidents in Uitenhage, Eastern Cape police said on Sunday.

One of the three men was killed on Saturday evening following a squabble with his friend in Hankey, said Inspector Gerda Swart.

A 29-year-old man was arrested shortly after the 5pm incident.

“It is alleged that they were arguing when the arrested man grabbed a knife and stabbed his friend on the chest. We were called to the scene after the stabbed man died and made an arrest,” said Swart.

The man is expected to appear in the Hankey Magistrate’s Court on Monday, facing a charge of murder.

In another incident a 33-year-old man was stabbed to death in Kwanobuhle.

His body was found in Lawrence Vinqi street on Saturday around 4pm, Swart said.

“He was stabbed in his forehead, chest and right shoulder. The motive of the killing is unknown.”

No arrest has been made and Swart urged those with information to call the investigating officer on 041-978-8600.

Three hours before the Kwanobuhle murder, another man was stabbed to death in Jeffreys Baby, allegedly by his friend.

“When the two were fighting they were with a woman who went to call for help. When she arrived with the police, they found one man on the bed with stab wounds on his back and neck,” she said.

A 30-year-old man was arrested and is expected to appear in the Humansdorp Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday. He faces a charge of murder. – Sapa

Source  I O L

Smart readers budget to beat the money bite

Posted Leave a commentPosted in News, Uncategorized

WHILE it‘s a symbolic fresh start for some, January is traditionally also a time when the financial hangover is at its worst for many.

Rhodes University psychology Professor David Edwards says more often than not, people find themselves in financial difficulty at this time of the year.

January‘s money woes are compounded by the typical over-indulgences of the Christmas period – many families have gone into debt by forking out for gifts, going on holiday and entertaining.

To make matters worse, January brings the reality of having to pay school and university fees and buy stationery and uniforms.

Last year‘s credit crunch is lingering while some families – such as those employed in the beleagured motor industry – have been forced to spend more time on holiday with less pay.

A snap survey by Weekend Post revealed many Eastern and Southern Cape residents were feeling the pressure – but the current economic climate had also forced them to be more budget-savvy.

Government employee Belinda Buck, from Bethelsdorp in Port Elizabeth, said January was “a stressful month for me. We got our December salaries at the end of November already (and) before it was even Christmas, you noticed that your pockets were empty”.

But she had been disciplined enough to set aside money for school expenses for her child.

Melany Bellingam, a Uitenhage sales consultant, said her family always overspent over the festive season. She was worried about money “because I have to buy school- clothes for my daughter and son”.

“The first two quarters of the year are definitely going to be tough. However, I did my level best to pay off my debts (at the end of last year). I‘m starting the year with a clean slate.”

Unemployed Harish Chavda, from Uitenhage, said because of festive- season expenses he‘d have to “take out a loan to pay my son‘s college fees”.

Single mom Patricia Roos, of East London, said her “biggest financial outlay” this month was high water and electricity bills. However, Roos, said: “I don‘t mind paying for school fees and stationery because education is the future for our kids.”

Back in Port Elizabeth, self-employed Themba Mosi, of Central, said past experience had made him “cautious” of how he spent his money. “I started 2008 on shaky ground because I didn‘t budget very well. That taught me a lesson … you‘re skating on thin ice if you don‘t budget.”

Mosi said he‘d already bought uniforms and other school necessities for his two daughters, adding: “I decided to do everything in advance for this year. I didn‘t go anywhere during the festive season … I stayed in PE and saved money”.

Angie Hewu, a stock controller from Zwide, Port Elizabeth, said: “I always plan ahead for January because I know things get hectic with finances.”

Forest Hill security officer Qondiswa Kalipa said she‘d countered festive-season overspending by buying her children‘s school clothes, stationery and other necessities early in December when they were more affordable.

Felicia Young, who moved to Knysna eight months ago from Humansdorp, said: “With the high food prices it really is a headache. We have a baby and a 12-year-old daughter. It is better with the petrol prices (coming down), but food is still so expensive.”

Peggy Dlephu, an artist living in Knysna, said January was a battle.

“I don‘t have children but I‘m responsible for a child whose father died. I pay for everything because the mother can‘t afford it.”
source Weekend Post

Cricketer Monde Zondeki

Posted Leave a commentPosted in News, Uncategorized

THE first day of school is a day some of us never forget. Remember when you were dropped off on your first day at school and you cried so hard and would not let go of mommy’s hand?

trufm presenter DJ Pastor (Phiwe Nozewu) remembers his experience, over 20 years ago, like it was yesterday. Pastor speaks about his first two days at school at Dower Primary School in Uitenhage.

“On my first day I cried, so I went straight back home with my mom. I went back the next day and I guess the idea had sunk in, because by the break I had forgotten about going home,” he said.

Uviwe Tuswe, of Khanyisa High School, was one of the province’s top achievers for 2008. He said initially he did not understand the purpose of going to school but just wanted to go out and play.

“I was with my cousin, so I felt safe. We were both going to Grade 1 and (the) excitement we felt that day … It was unbelievable,” said Tuswe.

Cricketer Monde Zondeki said that he was nervous about his first day at Dale College. “I was always at a boys’ school but was worried about being bullied. The fact that I was with all my primary school friends helped and made the whole experience less daunting,” said Zondeki.

Boxing trainer and businessman Mzi Mnguni shared his experiences at Khwezana Lower Primary School in Alice. His first challenge was to prove that he was old enough to be there by putting his arm over his head to touch his ear.

If his hand could touch his ear, then all was well.

“I wanted to go to school because everyone who went to school got new clothes. I was relieved about not having to go to the fields to look after my family’s cattle. Upon our arrival (with a group of friends), was the shocking realisation that we would be separated. When I saw other kids crying I knew that this place wasn’t what I thought it would be,” said Mnguni.

Buffalo City mayor Sakhumzi Caga spoke about his first day at Chuma Lower Primary School in Mdantsane. “I was scared and confused. I had not even been to pre-school and my mom just left me there. At break time I had no problem playing with the other kids but during class time I wanted to go home. Even though the teacher tried to make sure that we enjoyed ourselves, I felt confined,” said Caga.

source Daily Dispatch

Ex-Bay woman blooms in Cope limelight

Posted Leave a commentPosted in News, Uncategorized

FOR a woman thrust into the political spotlight as the third in charge of newly formed Congress of the People (Cope) three weeks ago, Lynda Odendaal, who hails from Nelson Mandela Bay, shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon.

Standing little over 1,5m tall the diminutive Odendaal, 44, has already shown her size has nothing to do with her political stamina, working almost non- stop during the most crucial time for party campaigners – the build-up to this year‘s elections in May.

“The first week was a bit of a challenge in terms of media coverage,” admitted Odendaal, who now lives in Johannesburg. She was speaking to Weekend Post in between busy meetings on Thursday.

“The (frantic way of life) is natural now, except for the media attention. But it‘s important we communicate with our members and potential members and I want to maintain that.”

Having grown up in Uitenhage where she attended Riebeek College, Odendaal later went on to study at commercial college Beckleys in Port Elizabeth. Then she wasted no time in getting into business.

“I‘ve been in commerce for the last 20 years,” she said.

She left her position as chief executive of Network Support Services, an information and communication technology company, to focus on her burgeoning political career.

An enterprising business woman, Odendaal also owns recruitment, development and human resources companies which she keeps an eye on while not strategising with party officials ahead of Cope‘s election manifesto launch in the Bay on January 24.

But she insists her foray into politics was never planned.

“I haven‘t been actively involved politically up until now,” she said. “I‘ve been more involved with issues like women‘s rights and transformation and I still want to play an active part because there is still a lot to be done in these areas.”

Despite her hectic schedule, Odendaal managed to spend some quality family time over Christmas, quietly sneaking back home to visit her parents Anna and John in Uitenhage from December 24 to January 4, with her husband André and 12-year-old son. She also has three grown up children.

“I was in church with my parents on Christmas Day. I sneaked in and spent some time with my family. It‘s important. You never know when you‘ll get that time again.”

The decision to name her as the second deputy president of the party came as a shock even to Odendaal who found out about her new position just hours before Cope was officially launched in Bloemfontein on December 16. Many had expected ex-ANC Eastern Cape Amathole region chairman Mluleki George to be third in charge, but he was named national organiser instead. Since the launch there has been no let-up from the media wanting to know more about the woman who until last month was relatively unknown.

Observers believe Odendaal‘s appointment was a deliberate bid to attract voters looking for a different profile to the ANC, as well as to further Cope‘s bid to be “an inclusive” party, rather than appealing to any one race group.

With her pale face and blonde hair, she stands out among the Cope leadership previously associated with the ANC.

While she burst onto the scene in a similar fashion to US Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, Odendaal by contrast speaks with clarity and a definite strategy.

Having begun work with the party behind the scenes after being moved by a radio interview with Cope president Mosioua “Terror” Lekota, Odendaal said it was Lekota‘s talk of change which struck a chord.

source Weekend Post

Uitenhage man gets 1,8 million per cent rates hike

Posted Leave a commentPosted in News, Uncategorized

Patrick Cull

IF you think your rates increase was excessive, spare a thought for a Uitenhage resident whose bill has increased by a whopping 1837960 per cent.

But this was all down to a past blunder. The property had been incorrectly valued and cost the owner just 10 cents a year in rates. The value is now put at R380000 and the owner will pay R1838,06 a year, or a fraction over R150 a month.

This is just one of the anomalies brought to light in the recent general valuation in Nelson Mandela Bay.

The second highest rates increase was 652900% for a property in KwaNobuhle that had also been incorrectly valued previously with rates of just 10 cents a year. Now valued at R150000, the new rates are R653 a year.

The owners of several other properties, incorrectly valued in the past, have also received hefty increases in percentage terms.

One in Motherwell, for example, was paying R2,05 a year, a figure that has been increased to R333,75 after the house was valued at R84000.

A number of houses in Greenbushes, Bethelsdorp and Parsonsvlei were also affected, the owners having been paying rates of between R1,64 and R11,29 a year because their properties were incorrectly valued on the previous roll.

source: The Herald Online, 14 August 2008