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One of the biggest problems in Central is waste. Eighteen months ago we started tackling this as it seemed like an easy issue to solve. We could not have been more wrong: it required extensive research to understand the multi-pronged problem and address it.

I was assigned to lead the waste clean-up as a board member of the Central Special Rates Area (SRA). All projects are overseen by the Central SRA board which includes a range of stakeholders, including property and business owners, property agents like myself, and Nelson Mandela University as many of its students live in Central in university-accredited accommodation.

The Central SRA is on a drive to clean up this beautiful heritage neighbourhood from crime, drugs, prostitution, waste and general decay, and we’re making strong headway.

To tackle the waste issue, we divided Central into eight zones and identified 15 dump sites, piled high with rubbish, including everything from building rubble to discarded furniture to torn black plastic bags that had spilled their contents.

The municipal waste collection trucks do not attend to dump sites, so we got together with the Sustainable Seas Trust to clean up these sites as well as street waste in all eight zones.

The Mandela Bay Development Agency (MBDA) has helped considerably, as it pays the salaries of 40 street sweepers in Central.

We put up signs above all the storm water drainage pipes saying “The Ocean Starts Here” to make people aware that if you dump rubbish there it will flow into the Baakens River and then into the sea.

Apart from the dump sites the amount of rubbish on the streets was shocking and I was sure most of the blame lay with the municipality, only to find out that it is sending more waste collection trucks to Central than to other neighbourhoods.

I started looking for the source of the street waste and it led straight to the blocks of flats, townhouse complexes and shared housing.

Most have shortish-term tenants and the owners are often investment owners who don’t spend enough time sorting out the issues.

An alarming number of landlords or body corporates had no idea they need a contract with the municipality to collect their waste on a specific day of the week.

We then did a survey with Central residents asking them if they knew on which day of the week the municipal waste trucks collect rubbish, and most had no idea it’s Mondays for houses and Thursdays for flats. Part of the confusion was caused by the waste collection trucks doing more trips than their allocated days. To try to reduce the vast amount of rubbish on the streets, they often drive through Central on their return from other suburbs.

We also discovered that some residents from all over the metro dump their plastic bags in Central on their way to work. We know this because one of our other flagship initiatives to address crime in Central

was to install AI cameras in the neighbourhood. We’re working in partnership with a security company that monitors the cameras on a 24-hour basis.

The cameras are able to track each and every vehicle or person, and if there is any suspicious behaviour, the security vehicles are despatched to investigate. This has significantly reduced crime and residents say they feel safer.

Next we started engaging with landlords and body corporates about creating dedicated waste areas to stop tenants from putting out all sorts of bags on the streets. NMU will also be adding a waste collection clause into its accredited accommodation policy.

The MBDA is sponsoring a marketing campaign that will launch in the next couple of weeks where two tuk-tuks will be driving around, branded with Must Bin Monday for the houses and Throw Out Thursday for the flats. We have also hired a dedicated block marshal who patrols the neighbourhood and reminds people about waste days. And we are sending out messages on social media and the WhatsApp group we’ve created for Central called Central SRA Communication.

We’re appealing to all residents to help us in the clean-up drive, and we will post photos of those who continue to dump on the streets so that the tenants can also take landlords and body corporates to task.

From Tuesday we are going to have a waste trade company bringing in a mobile recycling plant with an onboard scale. Residents or street pickers can separate their waste into bottles and tins, and plastic and cardboard, and take it to the recycling plant to get paid for it. Body corporates are being encouraged to invest in separate bins for each form of waste, so that the recycling plant can collect the waste and the proceeds can go to the waste trade company.

Waste management is a rigorous, ongoing task, but the streets are looking much better and we receive a lot of gratitude from the residents. When lockdown allows we will also resume the clean-ups where we get residents involved. They need to invest in the look and feel of their area even if they are there for a short time.

This article appeared in The Herald (South Africa) on 3 August 2021 written by Jurie Kotze, an agent with Stay Today Properties and a board member of the Central SRA .

Contact information
Ms Zandile Mbabela
Media Manager
Tel: 0415042777