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COVID-19: Municipalities implement wide-ranging interventions to assist communities

Apr 2, 2020
COVID-19: Municipalities implement wide-ranging interventions to assist communities

Cape Town - Municipalities across the Western Cape continue to roll out a broad collection of interventions aimed at mitigating the impact of Covid-19 in their communities.

The Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning in the Western Cape, Anton Bredell, says council’s primary responsibility is to continue to ensure that basic services, including water, sanitation, electricity and cleaning continues.

“In addition councils are doing everything within their means to assist their communities who are all struggling as a result of the Covid-19 virus and the impact thereof.”

The following initiatives have already been undertaken in Western Cape municipalities:

  • Key services including technical services, water, sewerage, electricity and waste management continues.
  • Water and electricity restrictions have been lifted in areas where it may have been implemented to date.
  • Loud hailing pertaining to COVID-19 operations and information is done in rural areas and informal settlements.
  • Councils are working closely with SAPS and the SANDF to ensure the safety of all communities.

A snapshot of some of the additional measures some councils have undertaken include but are not limited to:

  • Stellenbosch Municipality will suspend all rate collections for three months. In addition all homeless residents in the Franschhoek, Stellenbosch and Klapmuts areas are being accommodated in temporary accommodation.
  • In Overstrand Municipality, businesses who find themselves in financial stress, as a result of the lockdown and cannot pay their accounts due for March 2020 and/or April 2020, may enter into an extended term of payment agreement in order for their payments to be done over a period of 6 months. Residential customers, who find themselves in financial stress, as a result of the lockdown and cannot pay their accounts due for March 2020 and/or April 2020, may also enter into an extended payment agreement in order to pay these accounts, over a twelve month period. In addition, all tenants of the Municipality who cannot make use of the premises they lease, for the purpose it is leased for, such as business premises, stalls, etc. will be exempted from the payment of their rental for the months of April 2020 and May 2020. 
  • In Hessequa municipality all ward councillors have been provided with funding to provide food parcels to their constituencies where needed.
  • Swartland Municipality is working with the private sector to develop feeding schemes for homeless people. The municipality is still considering a possible payment holiday for property rates as well as writing off interest on arrear accounts.
  • In Witzenberg municipality, the council has decided not to implement strict credit control during the lockdown period. All prepaid electricity meters that may have been shut off due to non-payment has been reconnected. Shelter has been arranged for homeless people needing accommodation during this time.
  • Saldanha-Bay: A temporary suspension of all credit control measures and procedures will be implemented until the end of April 2020, meaning that there will be no blocked electricity meters and no restriction measures. The Free basic water allocation for indigent residents will be increased from 6 to 10 kilolitres from April 2020 until the end of June 2020. The largest holiday resort has been made available for a containment area if needs be.
  • Drakenstein municipality has lifted all water and electricity blocks. Temporary shelter for the homeless has been arranged.
  • BreedeVallei municipality has rolled out additional water points and toilets in informal settlements which are also being serviced on a greater frequency.
  • Mosselbay Municipality is providing financial assistance to all lessee’s of the municipality. When it comes to water all water that has been restricted (on drip) has been opened and all prepaid and conventional electricity meters that were blocked had their restrictions lifted.
  • Oudtshoorn Municipality has undertaken various measures including exempting the billing of interest on all overdue consumers’ accounts for a period of four (4) months from March 2020 – June 2020.
  • Theewaterskloof Municipality has also lifted restrictions on water and electricity. All critical services continue and communication in the affected areas is rolled out continuously. The council is working with NGOs in to distribute food parcels where needed.
  • Drakenstein Municipality is providing shelter to the homeless in four different shelters across its municipal area. The homeless receive soap, water, blankets and daily meals.
  • In Bergrivier Municipality, people who were placed on a controlled water management system, now have full access to water for the duration of the National State of Disaster. Credit control on outstanding accounts are also being relaxed.
  • George Municipality will not charge any interest for April 2020 on service accounts. The council has unblocked all electrical meters from 24 March to allow purchase of pre-paid electricity for all consumers. Additional sanitation facilities and waterpoints are being provided in a number of informal settlements. Rosemore Sport Stadium has been set up as a homeless shelter. Loudhailing has been taking place in all areas as of 25 March – with areas being identified on a daily basis that need to be revisited.

“District municipalities in the Western Cape continue to render all essential services, including firefighting, road maintenance and environmental health services. Our disaster management centres are all in 24/7 activation and working hard to tackle the COVID-19 crisis,” says Bredell.

“Further measures continue to be investigated by all councils as the situation unfolds. I want to thank our councils in conjunction with the Western Cape Department of Local Government for doing what they can to assist their communities during this difficult time,” says Bredell.

Bredell has urged all citizens with questions regarding the ongoing lockdown and what it means for them, their families and their lives to visit the website: www.westerncape.gov.za/coronavirus

“In addition, if you have flu-like symptoms, and have come into contact with someone who has COVID-19, please contact the provincial hotline on 021 928 4102 for advice on what to do next.”

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