Frustrated Richmond Hill residents speak out

2019-05-29 06:02

RICHMOND Hill residents are calling for a clampdown on problematic areas in the suburb after a recent survey showed a lack of municipal services in the suburb.

The survey was conducted by the Richmond Hill Special Rates Area (RHSRA) in an effort to establish general views and attitudes of residents and the property owners of the historical suburb.

The RHSRA was established in 2014 with the mandate from the NMBM to maintain, preserve and improve the suburb.

The services that the RHSRA are rendering include, among others, a 24/7 dedicated security service, a clean-up crew, two WhatsApp groups (one dedicated to emergencies), an operational office with an office manager to attend to complaints and operational matters and a web page.

“Residents in Nelson Mandela Bay will be surprised what can be done on such a miniscule budget.

“We also appointed a permanent environmental officer with staff to do general cleansing of the area,” said a director of the RHSRA, Jan de Klerk.

“These people are working five days per week collecting rubbish, weeding public areas and looking after the general neatness of the area,” said De Klerk.

According to De Klerk, the main concern remained that the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality (NMBM) was still “reluctant” to get involved in preserving and maintaining the suburb.

“There are individual departments with whom we have excellent relationships and on whom we can rely for service delivery.

“However, other departments seem to ignore their responsibility and obligations, in particular those relating to business demarcation and population density.

“These are areas that the RHSRA cannot address unilaterally,” de Klerk said.

As one of the oldest residential suburbs in the country, the purpose of the survey was to change perceptions about the suburb, identify problem areas and to stop the decay that was perceived to be threatening its existence.

The RHSRA decided to focus in this round of the survey on the perceptions of residents and property owners.

The questionnaire included a wide variety of variables including security, entertainment, innovation, history and cleanliness.

De Klerk added, “Having determined these perceptions, we can address problematic areas before inviting visitors to share the beauty of our suburb.”

The survey pointed out a number of issues that needed to be addressed. Most are institutionalised, caused by service delivery issues.

De Klerk added, “We are surprised and happy about participation numbers. We received a total of 180 responses over a period of about two weeks.

“Through this survey and the experience of five years in operation, the RHSRA has identified most challenges and we are trying to be proactive in most of the problems facing us.”

According to the survey, residents acknowledge that the RHSRA is doing a good job, but there are feelings that more can be done.

According to a resident who replied to the survey, Richmond Hill has a village feel, but other elements are causing havoc.

“I enjoy the close proximity of the well-maintained Richmond Park and the ease of access to restaurants and coffee shops.

“However, I don’t enjoy the litter, especially in alleyways, the drunken parties after midnight and the groups of drunk students shouting in the streets in the early hours of the morning,” the resident said.

The survey also indicated that the residents want to be better informed on achievements, initiatives and financials.

According to De Klerk, Port Elizabeth’s deteriorating and crime-embattled suburb of Central, is also one step closer to being declared the city’s second Special Rates Area.

“We are excited by the prospects of the soon to be established Central SRA, which will give us the opportunity to work together to stop the decay of a larger portion of the inner city, making it resident, business and tourist friendly,” said De Klerk.

When asked for comment on the service delivery issues in Richmond Hill, municipal spokesperson, Mthubanzi Mniki, said that the NMBM provides fair service delivery to all suburbs.

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