Newcastle is a rose among KZN’s municipal thorns

2013-11-11 00:00

NEWCASTLE is dramatically outperforming other towns and cities around KwaZulu-Natal, on everything from cost-cutting to cleanliness.

This industrial town:

• Was awarded KwaZulu-Natal’s “Best Performing Mayor” of the year prize last week from the Department of Co-Operative Governance and Traditional Affairs — for the second year running;

• Has, in the last year, established a hospital and police station at its Madadeni township; attracted a R1,2 billion investment for the Vulintaba Golf Estate; and opened the Newcastle Mall, which was voted South Africa’s best retail centre in September;

• Has seen its new Asiphephe Bridge used by SARS as the subject of its national thank-you campaign to national taxpayers. The bridge — which numerous councils have tried and failed to establish — has slashed commuting time by almost 30 minutes for Madadeni township residents;

• Won the “most innovative infrastructure”, 2013, award by becoming the first paperless government in South Africa;

• Was voted the country’s third best town in water conservation;

• Increased its budget for infrastructure to R406 million, from a low of just R68 million in 2009;

•Has converted over 100 km of dirt roads in the city’s townships to tarred roads in three years; and

• Was identified in July as KwaZulu-Natal’s “greenest municipality” by the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs, and the second cleanest in South Africa, after Tzaneen.

This follows initiatives including a two-bag recycling plan for residents — including the issue of educational fridge magnets — and a new composting plant that turns garden refuse into usable compost, rather than being channelled into landfill.

In a statement that could also reflect its cost-cutting, Deputy Environment Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi declared: “The policies adopted by the Newcastle Local Municipality are to be utilised as a benchmark for other municipalities in South Africa.”

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