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Budget boost for services

SINCE the outbreak of the nationwide COVID-19 pandemic in March last year and the subsequent nationwide lockdown, Kouga Municipality has ploughed back close to R40 million into the community.

Apart from COVID-19 relief, the municipality has increased its adjustment budget by R31 million in September last year to improve service delivery in the region – one of only a few municipalities able to do so, if not the only.

A further R25 million has also been added to the 2021/ 2022 budget to take service delivery to even greater heights in the new financial year.

Kouga Executive Mayor, Horatio Hendricks, said that relief measures included various payment relief measures for residents affected by the pandemic. Residents could have applied for a reprieve on interest charges on overdue accounts from the start of the lockdown until December 31, 2020.

“All debt collection measures have also been stopped for six months and blocked electricity meters were unblocked for the same period,” he said. 

“Other measures included a retrospective holiday, a reprieve from interest on outstanding accounts, and a six-month payment arrangement.”

In addition to the payment relief measures, the municipality secured 401 water tanks to help vulnerable communities combat COVID-19, extra chemical toilets were put in place, taxi ranks, pick-up points and public facilities were sanitised, a temporary homeless shelter was established, and food parcels were distributed.

Keeping Kouga Serviced

“More than 400 water, sewer and electricity complaints were resolved by our essential services staff during the first month of the lockdown,” said Hendricks. “A total of 137 water faults were repaired from March 27 to April 27. A total of 158 sewer-related blockages and breakages were attended to over the same period and 115 electrical faults repaired.”

According to Hendricks, the resealing of roads across the region was surging ahead, while a total of 9 720 potholes were fixed from July to December last year.

Furthermore, 328 families in Humansdorp and Jeffreys Bay received access to electricity from July to October 2020, and more than 1 000 streetlamps and floodlights across the region had been retrofitted with LED lights.

Collection Rate

“Despite the severe impact COVID-19 has had on the local economy, and in particular the tourism industry, which resulted in businesses like restaurants, accommodation establishments and activity-related operations suffering, the municipality has weathered the storm,” said Hendricks.

“We budgeted for an 85% collection rate for the current financial year – as opposed to the 96% collection rate in our draft budget. It is pleasing to report that at the end of December last year, six months into the financial year, our collection rate is at 91%, which shows how resilient our economy is, despite the challenges posed by COVID-19.”

He said that they would be increasing the budgeted collection rate to 90% for the remainder of the financial year, which will facilitate the resealing of more roads in Kouga, installing more lights in areas prone to crime and ensuring that Kouga would be kept clean.

“We still have a long way to go, but if we continue to stand together and look out for each other, we will endure,” said Hendricks.

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