Getting their hands dirty

2010-04-20 00:00

OWNERS and employees of about 15 Howick businesses laboured yesterday in an effort to clean up the filth in the area surrounding the Howick Falls.

The idea for the clean-up emerged when local tour operators explained that Howick has been scrapped as a stop-off point for tours that will be taking place over the Fifa 2010 World Cup because of the untidy state of the area surrounding Main Street and the falls.

With 51 days until the World Cup begins, and with many Howick businesses hoping to prosper over this time, local residents decided to take matters into their own hands and clean up the town.

Kim le Roux, manager of the Howick Falls Hotel, said the municipality has let the town deteriorate at a time when it needs to be well maintained in order to attract tourists during the World Cup tournament.

“This is the heart of Howick’s tourism trade. The community ground next to the falls is always littered with rubbish and the grass is never cut. The mess on the High Street accumulates and rubbish bins are not emptied,” she said.

Le Roux said the garbage left by the vendors and curio stands on the community ground is rarely removed.

“The police, or at least the municipality, needs to be on top of this and prevent it from happening.

“At the end of the day, we are paying a lot in rates and taxes for a service that we are getting absolutely nothing out of.”

Le Roux and about 30 other residents, most of whom run businesses in Main Street, spent the day doing what they considered to be municipal duties.

The grass outside the Howick Museum was cut and rubbish along Main Street and on the community ground was cleaned up and put into bin bags.

Howick resident Blake Gilson, who had taken the day off from his business, Hides of Africa, took the bags in a bakkie to be dumped.

“My livelihood and my business depend on tourists coming to Howick,” Gilson said.

“We are very disappointed with the municipality’s efforts at keeping the tourist centres of Howick clean.”

Le Roux said she intends to get Howick involved in a tourism strategy for the World Cup. She will be contacting tour agencies and operators once the clean-up is complete, alerting them to the work that has been done in the hope that Howick will be a popular tourist destination for local and foreign visitors.

She also hopes that yesterday’s efforts will bring about a much-needed change. “I seriously hope the municipality takes notice of this and starts doing something about it.

“There are going to be so many tourists in the country in only 50 days or so. All we want is for Howick to be a part of that.”

In response to the clean-up, acting Howick municipal manager H. S. Buthelezi said the municipal strike is the main cause of the mess in the town.

“The events of yesterday are most unfortunate,” he said.

“Our employees are choosing not to work. We are waiting for the outcome of negotiations between the SA Local Government Association and the SA Municipal Workers’ Union. Once the strike is over, I’m sure the problem will go away.”


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