Uniting to clean PMB

2014-12-03 00:00

DOWNTOWN shoppers were surprised yesterday to see the people who serve them behind the counters in local stores out with brooms and brushes, cleaning the streets.

Taxi passengers were even more ­surprised to find their drivers out of their kombis and sweeping the taxi rank ­outside Asmalls.

The operation was part of an innovative partnership between local businesses, informal traders and taxi associations to improve their precinct and promote economic development in the city.

The partnership, formally launched last week, is known as the Msunduzi ­Economic Development Agency (Meda). The organisation is working with Msunduzi Municipality. The agency’s launch was marked yesterday with a clean-up campaign called “Operation Crime and Grime”.

Agency member Shabeer Hoosen said the aim was to capitalise on recent developments in the city like the Brookside Mall. “We want to create a pedestrian corridor that will make downtown an attractive part of the city. Our long-term plans are to sort out the parking, create social spaces and beautify the area.”

Taxi owners Kelly Singh and Moses Bhengu were also at the clean-up. They said their passengers complained ­constantly about the filth and that it was finally through the partnership that they were achieving something.

Northern Suburbs Taxi Association (NSTA) rank marshall Nicholas Khumalo was hard at work sweeping up the gutter in Church Street. He said: “If we keep this spot clean, then our passengers will respect this space and also keep it clean.”

Kantha Naidoo, of Asmalls, who has been co-ordinating the initiative, ­explained how it came about. She said that, fed up with the mess in the area, they had initially formed the Downtown Steering Committee to find a way ­forward.

“The Nelson Mandela Day clean-up campaign was a catalyst. We contacted The Witness and explained what we wanted to achieve. This led to us forging links with the municipality. Previously our letters and requests went ­unanswered. We met with key managers who suggested that we formalise our structure, which we did in forming ­Meda,” Naidoo said.

The agency recently met Pius Moseya, head of waste management, who offered to assist with a clean-up campaign to launch the organisation. This led to ­yesterday’s effort, where municipal staff worked side-by-side with Meda.

Naidoo and Hoosen said this was just the beginning and the long-term aim was the economic development of the area — involving both the formal and informal business sectors — and ultimately the upliftment of Msunduzi.

Fazila Bhamjee, who has been trading in downtown Church Street for the past 56 years, was handing out bin bags to the clean-up crew.

“This is so good,” she said. “Everyone is standing united. Church Street belongs to all of us. We live here and it is our city. I am telling everyone that a clean environment is a healthy environment.”

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