The infrastructure of the Kouga has been sadly neglected for many years and billions of Rands of infrastructural backlog has been identified in the latest Integrated Development Plan (IDP).
However, a mere R 63 million will be spend on Capital Expenditure in the upcoming financial year, which is down from R 104,5 million in the previous financial year.
Of more concern is that only R 49 million is being budgeted for Capital Expenditure in the 2017/18 financial year, which clearly indicates that, unless there is a change in Government in Kouga, the infrastructural backlog will probably never be eradicated.
Our infrastructure is even more vulnerable if one factors in the future growth of the population and the possibility of a mega project like Thyspunt Nuclear Power Station going ahead.
One of the scary omissions in this year’s budget, as well as the medium term budgets is the upgrade to the main 66KV line which supplies the entire Jeffreys Bay with power.
In December 2014, this line collapsed, leaving Jeffreys Bay without power for three days which severely impacted on the peak holiday season with retailers losing millions of rands and left holidaymakers feeling disgruntled.
A mere R 1,5 million has been allocated to the upgrade of the 66KV line in the upcoming financial year with absolutely no budget being allocated in the following two financial years.
Kouga’s Repairs and Maintenance budget is yet again woefully neglected with only R 36 million being allocated to the upkeep of Kouga’s assets like roads, buildings, equipment and infrastructure.
This means that the sad state of the roads in Kouga with potholes being the norm and regular sewage spills in towns like Jeffreys Bay and Humansdorp are set to continue as there is simply not enough budget to maintain and repair the assets of all the towns in Kouga (which also include St Francis Bay, Oyster Bay, Hankey, Patensie, Thornhill and Loerie).
Tourism and agriculture are the two main economic drivers in Kouga, yet are being ignored in the 2016/17 budget.
In the 2013/4 financial year, R 19,5 million was budgeted for Tourism and Local Economic Development. The budget this year is R 11 million, which will not help an area that needs to grow the tourism industry for sustainable job creation.
For these primary reasons, the Democratic Alliance who is the official opposition party in Kouga, could not support the 2016/17 budget.
The DA’s standpoint is that at least 8 % of the budget needs to be allocated to Repairs and Maintenance and that savings need to be made elsewhere to ensure that a long term Capital Expenditure budget can be implemented to benefit the lives of all the residents of Kouga.
The tourism industry will benefit from a well maintained infrastructure and support for the big festivals we already have in the Kouga will lead to them growing and attracting more feet into our towns.
The ocean economy should become an integral part of local economic development in the region and more emphasis needs to placed on the energy sector, with Kouga already being a leader in renewable energy in South Africa.
With the right vision and capable leadership, there is no reason why the Kouga cannot overcome its problems and become the Jewel of the Eastern Cape.
Its time for change in Kouga
Cllr Brenton Williams
Tags: kouga budget 2016