Umbilo businesses fume over area degradation

Ian Campbell-Gillies stands by the viaduct in Alan Paton Road which is being used as a public toilet.

THE Umbilo Business Forum (UBF) is shocked by the degradation of lower Umbilo, where business owners are paying high rates, but the area is dogged by declining resources.

Ian Campbell-Gillies from the UBF brought the viaduct in Alan Paton to the attention of staff from the South Durban Basin last week, saying there had been talk of a possible recent appointment supposed to alleviate area degradation and the management consequences for rate-payers and business owners of Umbilo, but far from improving, the much-abused viaduct in the road was now being used as a toilet, in addition to the public street, Badger Lane.

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Speaking to Berea Mail outside the foul smelling viaduct on Saturday, Campbell-Gillies said: “Badger Lane, which is used as a public toilet, has been a bone of contention for a while, but now the viaduct is being used as a toilet. I have seen naked women who have been compelled to bathe in the canal where people defecate. This is an issue of service non-delivery,” he said, stating that business owners in the area contributed R96 million in rates annually.

“The tax value of this area is immense, it is an important tax hub and is of vital importance to the community, but this area is polluted. The municipality is benefiting by our rates. The irony is we are putting R96 million into their hands, and don’t demand accountability from the municipality. This area seems to be forgotten. I question what we are paying for. This viaduct is also just one area of degradation. This is a case of systematic municipal service failure,” he said.

Campbell-Gillies said the UBF was trying its best to bring the excluded in the community out of crime and hopelessness by creating jobs in the area. He said the new recycling centre in Congella Park would have showers and toilets for the 12 vagrants who have been incorporated into the projects at the park.

Responding to Campbell-Gillies, Eurakha Singh, senior manager of the South Durban Basin Area Based Management said the social issues regarding the viaduct all speak of the homelessness situation in the city and the lack of services such as ablutions for these vulnerable groups.

“I will contact the Safer Cities Unit to advise on progress of the implementation of the homelessness strategy devised by the City and will also request Metro Police and DSW to undertake a co-ordinated enforcement and clean-up operation in the area. This is not addressing root causes but it would assist in relieving the current untenable situation,” she said.

 

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  AUTHOR
Lauren Walford
Journalist

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