Crèche in dark over lights

2017-06-28 06:01
The Haas Das ECD Centre in Algoa Park during the day. Photo: SUPPLIED

The Haas Das ECD Centre in Algoa Park during the day. Photo: SUPPLIED

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AFTER months of trying in vain to get the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality’s (NMBM) attention, the staff members of the Haas Das Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centre in Algoa Park are starting to doubt that the broken street lights in the area will ever be fixed.

According to Haas Das ECD principal Dolly Nel, the street lights in Kamdebo Street (where the school is located) and Ysterhout Street have not been working since last year.

“We have reached our wits’ end reaching out to the local municipality and executive mayor’s office for assistance regarding the fact that our school, Haas Das ECD and the surrounding area is in total darkness due to the streetlights not working since 2016,” said Nel.

“This is a long stretch of road with loads of foot traffic.”

Several attempts to report the situation on the number provided by the NMBM specifically for power failures and street light faults proved unsuccessful. Nel claims that she was not even supplied with a reference number.

After two of her employees were robbed at knifepoint, Nel attempted to contact Executive Mayor Athol Trollip directly on April 22 and received a response from his personal assistant to inform her that the matter had been directed to the Rapid Response Task Team co-ordinator.

“The only reason I went this route (contacting the mayor directly) was because the numbers we were given to phone were not answered,” Nel said.

By May 15, the matter had not yet been resolved and Nel again contacted the mayor’s personal assistant. The matter was brought to the attention of several individuals, including Lesley Dunderdale, executive secretary to NMBM acting executive director: electricity and energy, Peter Neilson.

Dunderdale made a request on June 8 to an electricity call centre to liaise directly with Nel to ascertain whether the faulty streetlights have been captured on the faults system for repair.

Since then, Nel has received no correspondence on the matter which remains unresolved.

The Haas Das ECD Centre employs 23 people and caters for 226 children from the local community.

Nel said there were open fields located near the school, which residents use as illegal dumping sites and which provide cover for dangerous individuals.

“The safety of my pupils, staff and parents is a priority,” she said.

“Our facility has been vandalised and burgled 12 times, the school vehicle was stolen from a locked garage and four staff members have been robbed in front of our building during this period. The SAPS is aware of more crimes happening in this area around us.”

The school has had to replace their lights, windows and various other fixtures numerous times after they were stolen or broken.

“With winter adding to the darkness factor, we have not been able to host a parent evening or fundraiser after hours due to the lack of safety.

“We really have been patient, but safety concerns are relevant.

“I have staff and children that have to walk to the premises in the early hours and sometimes we leave late due to parents arriving late. The dangerous dark roads around us offer these people no comfort.

“We feel that we have the right to expect streetlights to be in working order, not only for our safety, but for the community as a whole,” Nel said.

Municipal spokesperson Mthubanzi Mniki said, “The municipality is experiencing incidents of vandalism to streetlights and some of the municipal infrastructure. This is leading to a backlog of maintenance and repair work.

“We are working around the clock to reach all the affected areas. Streetlighting is a key element of safety.”

It is very difficult to see the surrounding area at the Haas Das ECD Centre in Algoa Park at night. Photo: SUPPLIED
The street lights in certain areas of Algoa Park have not been repaired, which makes it a very dangerous area to be at night and early in the morning. Photo: SUPPLIED
These fields around the school are used as illegal dumping sites and provide cover for dangerous individuals at night. Photo: SUPPLIED

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