17 000 hectares destroyed in Longmore fire

June 21, 2017

About 17 000 ha of veld, plantation and farm land in the Kouga area has been destroyed by the fire that started burning in the Longmore area on 7 June.

This is only within Kouga’s area of jurisdiction and does not include damage on Nelson Mandela Bay’s side.

Lady Slipper mountain. Photo: Anike Meyer

Sanral has been replacing fire-damaged barriers along the N2. They have also been removing damaged road signs along the N2 and new ones have been ordered.

There were some flare-ups in the Van Stadens Gorge but these were extinguished. The two SANDF helicopters were also used to dump water on hot spots in the gorge.

Smaller flare-ups were extinguished in the Loerie/Thornhill areas yesterday.

Fire-fighters and farmers are now busy with 360˚ mop-ups along the perimeters of fire-damaged areas.

Kouga fire-fighters are still assisting Nelson Mandela Bay with the fire at the Yellowwoods area behind Woodridge.

About 120 000 litres of water was thrown on this fire by the SANDF helicopters, which helped to contain the fire.

Fire contained in Kouga, spreads towards Blue Horizon Bay

June 20, 2017

There have been some flare-ups in Kouga, however, the worst fire is now on the eastern side of the Van Stadens gorge.

The fire in Longmore. Photo: Dirk Erasmus

SANDF helicopters will be fighting the blaze today, while around 30 firefighters are on the ground, o prevent the fire spreading to the Blue Horizon Bay area.

There were flare-ups at Longmore but fire-fighters were able to contain and extinguish the fires before any further damage was caused.

There have also been flare-ups at Crossways and Thornhill today, but they have been contained.

There are still 80 fire-fighters on the ground in these areas.

Farmers are also busy assisting with mop-up operations, especially in the Thornhill area.

“The major concern at this stage is the fire that has flared up to the eastern side of the Van Stadens gorge behind Woodridge. Kouga has sent fire-fighters to assist Nelson Mandela Bay,” said Kouga Mayor Elza Van Lingen.

Nelson Mandela has not yet been able to restore the electricity supply to the Longmore village.

Kouga Municipality has, however, brought in a generator which is being used to supply power to houses on a rotational basis.

Kouga Municipality is also carting in water and has put in place 25 portable toilets for use by the village, as the water supply has also been affected by the power outage.

“Sightseers have been obstructing fire-fighting operations along the N2 and R102. We ask that people avoid these areas as far as is possible. Drivers are reminded to please reduce speed when driving in these areas,” added Van Lingen.

Police are patrolling affected areas to prevent looting, also of scrap metal.

The Thornhill Police Station is currently being used as the drop-off point for donations.

Zwane’s Mining Charter a plan for more state capture

June 16, 2017

The release of the Mining Charter is proof that the ANC government does not care about long-term and sustainable transformation in the mining sector. Version 3 of the Mining Charter will be a disaster for the mining industry.

In presenting his new rules, which amount to a massive giveaway of mine value to the ANC’s favoured groups, Minister Zwane has opened the doors to more ANC crony enrichment.

The DA supports share schemes for miners when they are structured to benefit the workers and are economically viable.

One way of diversifying the mining sector would be to bring mine workers into mining schemes. It’s pointless to try and diversify if it leads to the collapse of companies.

But this is not what the ANC government is proposing. Instead, the ANC government’s Mining Charter proposal wants to make cronies and insiders richer, as they open up new opportunities to get in on mining deals.

We have seen the devastating impact of how connected cronies, like the Guptas, prey on deals like this and how they facilitate capture of resources.

The reality is that only 8% of ownership will ever make it into the hands of mineworkers under Zwane’s proposal.

Zwane’s proposal also seeks to win back the favour of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) who are unhappy because of State Capture and a declining industry.

We believe that the proposal’s by the Minister seek to buy off communities who have been let down by the failure of ANC municipalities to deliver services, and the failure of the ANC government to create an economy that provides jobs.

We also believe that the requirement announced by Minister Zwane that all prospecting rights must be 50% +1 BEE inclusive, will mean the virtual death of prospecting.

The BEE sector is perennially short of cash, particularly for speculative actions like prospecting. The amount of prospecting will plummet. Even if there are new finds, capital will be extremely difficult to raise.

One wonders if Zwane actually believes his statements about this charter which he says will “catapult South Africa’s economy forward.” The only place the industry will be catapulted is over a cliff.

Almost 450 thousand South Africans work directly for the mines. At least as many again work in associated industries. The future of their jobs is now in doubt. Zwane and Zuma’s grasping charter will be to blame.

We have no doubt that this charter will end up in court in the very near future.

Kouga fire-fighters on high alert

June 15, 2017

Kouga fire-fighters are on high alert, with strong winds having been predicted for today.

Executive Mayor Elza van Lingen said two helicopters from the SA National Defence Force arrived yesterday afternoon to water-bomb areas that could flare up.

“A 100 fire-fighters are also on the ground, busy with mop-up operations between Loerie and Thornhill.

“We would like to ask the public not to panic should there be flare-ups in the wind today. The situation is being monitored and managed carefully,” she said.

“If it becomes necessary to issue an evacuation alert, this will be done officially by the municipality. We ask people not to spread false rumours.

The municipality will publish relevant information on its Facebook page.”

She said the fire at Longmore was under control at the moment but still smouldering. Tree stumps are also still smouldering in the area between the N2 and R102 where fire crews extinguished fires yesterday.

“We would once again like to appeal to motorists to reduce their speed when travelling past the Van Stadens and Thornhill areas.

There are a lot of animals, both livestock and wildlife, wandering into the roads because of the fences having burnt down,” she said.

The Mayor said Sanral had already started replacing damaged road signs and fencing but that the damage was extensive.

She appealed to the public to report any fire-related incidents, including trees and obstructions that have fallen in the road, to Kouga’s all-hour emergency number at 042-2910250.

Humanitarian crisis brewing at Longmore

June 15, 2017

A humanitarian crisis is brewing at the Longmore village where residents have been without electricity and water since the weekend.

The fire in Longmore. Photo: Dirk Erasmus

Kouga Executive Mayor Elza van Lingen said 80 households were affected by the service interruption, caused by fire damage to electrical infrastructure.

“Longmore is situated in the Kouga region, but Nelson Mandela Bay is the supply authority for electricity. The Metro had hoped to have the power restored by today, but the damage was more extensive than anticipated,” she said.

“The burnt line also supplies electricity to the Loerie Dam and pump stations, hence, the interruption in the water supply.”

She said Kouga Municipality was carting water to the area and that 25 mobile toilets were being delivered to the village today. Generators are being brought in to try and get the pump stations up and running again.

“We are also collecting ready-made meals for the 204 people of the village because it has been difficult for them to make their own food.”

She said the full extent of the fire damage had not yet been determined but that early estimates put it at hundreds of millions of rands.

“Sixty percent of the Longmore Plantation, as well as the saw mill, burnt down. The cost of this damage will be immense.”

She said the Department of Social Development was working with local farmers and farming associations to assess the damage to farms in the area.

“We are concerned that hundreds of farm workers are going to be without work. It could take as long as three years or more for affected farmers to rebuild what they have lost.”

She said Social Development and the Jeffreys Bay Trauma Centre were continuing with counselling support. Eighteen children from the affected areas have already received counselling.

She appealed to non-profit organisations that work with poor communities to contact Sarah Hugo from the National Lottery at 086 006 5383 to see how they can assist those traumatised and affected by the fire.

Ready-made meals can be dropped off at the Thornhill Hotel, the Kouga Municipal offices at 33 Da Gama Road, Jeffreys Bay, or at the Kouga Fire Department on the entry road to Humansdorp from the N2.

Fires contained but not under control

June 14, 2017

The Longmore fire is still not under control but is being contained. Firebreaks have also been created at Crossways to help contain the fire.

Photo: Dirk Erasmus

No structures are currently under threat. A fire that threatened a chicken farm was extinguished during the course of Monday night.

Some 120 fire-fighters are on the ground to deal with flare-ups and to do mop-up work. This includes 50 fire-fighters who arrived from across the Sarah Baartman district today.

Hot spots in the Kouga region are in the vicinity of the J-Bay Zebra Lodge near Thornhill, as well as the section between the R102 and N2.

Wind gusts are predicted for later this week, which could impact on mop-up operations.

A request has been submitted by the Joint Operations Centre to the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) for air support in the form of helicopters to “water bomb” flare-ups in the region.

In addition to Kouga, the JOC included Nelson Mandela Bay Metro and SAPS. It was chaired by Major-General Johan Fourie.

Roads

Sanral has put up temporary road signs on the N2 asking motorists to reduce speed.

A large number of animals have been wandering into the road because of the fire. Visibility also remains problematic at places because of the smoke. There are also fire crews along the roads.

Water and electricity interruptions

The Longmore/Loerie area is currently without electricity or water after 1km of the 11kv electrical line that supplies power to the area burnt out. The line also supplies power to the Loerie Dam and related water infrastructure, hence, the interruption in the water supply as well.

According to feedback given at the JOC, the electricity is expected to be restored by this afternoon (Wednesday).

Damage and donations needed

The full extent of the damage is still to be determined but it is estimated that about 12 houses burnt down on farms and small-holdings in the Longmore/Thornhill area. About 60% (about 12 500ha) of the Longmore Plantation has burnt down.

There are people who have literally been left with nothing. The Department of Social Development is assessing how many households have been left destitute and what their needs are.

State of Disaster declared in Kouga

June 13, 2017

Prompted by the widespread destruction caused by fires that have been burning in the region since Wednesday (7 June), the Kouga Council declared a Local State of Disaster yesterday afternoon.

The fore in Longmore. Photo: Dirk Erasmus

The declaration, made at a special meeting at Jeffreys Bay, will now be promulgated in the Provincial Gazette.

This will allow the municipality to apply for additional funding from provincial and national government so as to address the impact of the fires on the local infrastructure and communities.

FIRE HOTSPOTS
Two hot spots are still burning in the Kouga region. These are in the vicinity of Loerie and Crossways.

There is no immediate danger to property. “We are grateful to the local farming community who has also been helping with mop-up operations in these areas,” said Mayor Elza Van Lingen.

LONGMORE PLANTATION

About 50% (roughly 10 500ha) of the Longmore Plantation has burnt down. A total of 110 fire-fighters are still fighting fires in the plantation.

ROAD SAFETY AND ANIMALS

Motorists are cautioned to reduce their speeds when travelling along the N2 and R102 in the vicinity of Van Stadens and Thornhill.

Visibility has been poor, especially along the R102 in the vicinity of Thornhill.

Many animals, both livestock and wildlife, have also been wandering onto the roads because fencing either burnt out or had to be cut so that the animals could escape from the fire.

Sanrail has been asked to put up temporary road signs to warn motorists.

ELECTRICITY: THORNHILL AND LONGMORE

Nelson Mandela Bay Metro was able to restore the electricity supply to Thornhill yesterday and has undertaken to have the power restored to Longmore by Wednesday.

The Metro supplies electricity to Thornhill and Longmore even though these areas are located within Kouga Municipality’s boundaries.

TRAUMA COUNSELLING

Trauma counselling is being offered to residents affected by the fire through the Department of Social Development and Jeffreys Bay Trauma centre.

DONATIONS

“We are very grateful to everyone for the donations and support that have been streaming in since the crisis started on Wednesday.

We have sufficient supplies for affected communities at present.

We also have enough prepacked meals for fire-fighters at present, but will send out an alert should there be any further requirements,” added Mayor Van Lingen.

Local state of disaster to be declared

June 12, 2017

Statement by Kouga Executive Mayor Elza van Lingen:

The Kouga Council will be holding a special meeting at the Council Chambers in Jeffreys Bay at 2pm today

The purpose of the meeting will be for Council to declare a local state of disaster in the wake of the destruction caused by fire to large parts of the Kouga region, its communities and infrastructure over the past five days.

Van Stadens bridge. Photo: Dirk Erasmus

The declaration will follow less than two weeks after the Kouga Council also declared a local state of disaster (on 31 May) because of the prolonged drought that has been crippling the area.

Council’s plea to residents is that just as we stood together in the heat of the fire, we now have to stand together in rebuilding, in the same spirit, our families, our infrastructure and our Kouga.

The Kouga Council wishes to thank the following people and organisations for their assistance with rescue and relief efforts in our region over the past few days:

* Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality for trying to get Thornhill’s electricity on this afternoon (Sunday) soonest.
* MTN for jacking up the signal booster to improve communication in the Thornhill area.
* Sarah Baartman District Municipality’s leadership and Disaster Management teams
* Farming community and staff, who offered amazing support in spite of their own properties also being under threat.
* SAPS for continued support
* Longmore MTO, Working on Fire and fire-fighters from nearby districts.
* All donors and volunteers from all over Kouga and Nelson Mandela Bay. All donations are managed strictly under supervision and control.
* Kouga Municipality’s Social Services Director Japie Jansen, Kouga Fire Chief Dewald Barnard and fire-fighting teams, all Kouga staff, councillors and anyone else who dedicated time and effort for the people of Kouga.

We say thank you!

We further wish to express sincere condolences to the family of the couple who Van der Riet family This was a severe tragedy of our disaster.

We are also sad to have heard about farm houses that were partly damaged or burnt down, loss of staff houses, livestock, implements and outbuildings.

Jacob Zuma killed the ANC – We will not let him kill South Africa too

June 6, 2017

We should be building a post-ANC South Africa together.

In this post-ANC South Africa, we will put the education of our children first by supporting poor schools to become centres of excellence. No child will be left behind.

We will work hard to create a range of education, training and work opportunities for all young people leaving school.

In this post-ANC South Africa we will recognise the important role investors and entrepreneurs play in creating jobs and fighting poverty.

We will modernise our economy and we will invest in industries that make us globally competitive.

In this post-ANC South Africa we will double the Police Force and we will secure our borders, but we will also look at ways to attract skills and talent from across the continent.

We will choose our global friends well, and then stand by them in their time of need.

Friends such as my Zambian counterpart, Hakainde Hichilema, who was thrown in jail by a corrupt government. He will know he can count on the support of the South African government.

In this post-ANC South Africa we will do all we can to create opportunities for people to stand on their own two feet and escape the dependency on social grants. But, for those who need them, we will double the grant income.

In this post-ANC South Africa we will elect a president who will use the Presidency budget to serve the people, and not to stay out of jail.

This is our plan to bring our country back on track. And parts of this plan are already underway.

Our new coalition governments in Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay are already making inroads into reversing the damage left behind in these cities.

In these metros we have tarred new roads, launched new metro police, narcotics and K9 units, handed over thousands of title deeds, launched new housing projects and slashed perks for politicians.

Coalition governments are never easy, but we are making them work for the people of these cities. And we can make them work in national government too.

But it will require a big shift in the way we all think of our roles in building South Africa.

It will require many of you to accept that the ANC you once knew no longer exists.

Jacob Zuma killed that ANC. We will not let him kill South Africa too.

Mmusi Maimane

History made as unanimous budget gets passed in Kouga

June 5, 2017

Kouga Municipality will start its new financial year on a high note following the unanimous approval of the new budget by the Council on 31 May 2017.

It is the first time in the history of the municipality that its annual budget was approved unopposed and without conditions.

da kouga

 

The municipality’s new five-year Integrated Development Plan (IDP) was also approved unanimously at the same meeting.

Kouga Executive Mayor Elza van Lingen commended councillors for setting aside their political differences in the interest of communities.

“This is the first budget to be compiled since the new DA-led Council was inaugurated in August 2016.

“We wanted it to be a unifying document, hence an open and transparent process was followed, with ample opportunity for all councillors, communities and stakeholder groups to provide input,” she said.

“We are pleased that our efforts paid off and that the budget for 2017/2018 can be implemented with the full support of all parties.”

In terms of the approved budget the total operating revenue for 2017/2018 is R684,339 million, which represents an increase of 7,03 % when compared to the 2016/17 adjustments budget.

Funding for the budget will be obtained from various sources but primarily from service charges such as electricity, water, sanitation, the Environmental Management Fee (EMF) and refuse collection (54.08 %), property rates (23,46 %), grants and subsidies from national and provincial government (16,69%).

The following tariff increases were approved:

·         Property rates 8%

·         Water 9,5%

·         Sanitation 9%

·         Refuse 9%

·         Electricity (average increase in income) 2,05%

·         EMF 6%