Crime, grime and missed business opportunities were some of the issues discussed at a meeting of the Athlone Partnership, previously known as the Athlone Business Forum, at the Athlone police station on Wednesday, October 11.
Rasool Carelse, owner of CityWide Secure, said that he had noticed an increase in robberies in the area as well as dumping of refuse at night.
“There has also been an increase of vagrants in the Athlone CBD and an increase of illegal minibus taxis entering the area,” he said.
Colonel Clive Nicholas, station commander at Athlone police station, said in September there has been five attempted murders, of which two were gang related.
He said gangs in the area had come to a peace agreement at the beginning of September.
“We hope that this will continue into the festive season which for us is from October 13. Hopefully this will last until next year,” he said.
Colonel Nicholas said there had been 10 house burglaries and two school break-ins during September.
Edward Doe, a member of Athlone Community Police Forum (CPF), said he noticed “sketchy” guys operating as car guards in the area and that an investigation needs to be done to find out if they belong to a company.
“The neighbourhood watch has reported that they wear neighbourhood watch bibs which they then confiscate,” he said.
“We haven’t achieved our goals to attract more people to Athlone. We need a team to investigate what people want and the upgrades in the area must be beneficial to the residents,” he said.
He said people are flocking to other areas because their needs are not being met in Athlone.
“There is no progress in the area. We need to get business owners to address these challenges, they need to look at what people want,” said Mr Doe.
Fowzia Veerasamy chairperson of the Gatesville Neighbourhood Watch, said Gatesville has also had an increase of dumping in the area.
This includes factory oil being poured down the drains.
The City of Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for area central, Siyabulela Mamkeli, said in the 2015/16 financial year, 24 illegal dumping complaints were received in the area and in the 2016/17 financial year, that number went up to 29.
He said the City’s Environment Health Department issued 103 notices for vacant land to be cleared and cleared seven sites at a cost of R169 511 for the 2016/17 financial year.
Mr Mamkeli said the consequences of dumping include the formation of disease-causing bacteria and the spread of infections; unsafe surfaces which pose a risk of injury such as sharp glass or rusty sharp metal; and the breeding of rats, mice, flies and cockroaches.
“Dumping of medical waste can result in exposure to waste that is contaminated with bodily fluids, and the spread of dangerous infections and disease. Dumping of materials such as chemicals can harm both people and animals that are exposed to it, and pollute the air and contaminate the soil,” he said.
He said the illegal disposal of solid waste and liquid waste into stormwater drains and sewerage drains can block and pollute the drains.
“It is up to 10 times more expensive to remove dumped waste on the surface or in drainage systems than it would be to have it removed via more responsible means such as legal drop-off sites/municipal removal – mostly due to the cost of manpower, machinery and special vehicle usage that is required,” he said.
When asked what the consequences are of factories dumping oils in City drains, he said that when the wastewater in the sewer reticulation system contains grease such as oils and/or fats, the consequences are; reduced sewer capacity due to formation of greasy solids, which float or solidify in the system, blockages and failure of pumps, overflows in sewer drains which poses a health nuisance or health hazard, and reduces the efficiency of the wastewater treatment facility and consequently reduces the quality of treated effluent discharged into the water bodies.
He said that factories are required to install and maintain adequately sized grease traps connected to their wastewater systems, or alternatively collect and contain all used oil for collection by a licensed waste oil collector for safe recycling, reuse or disposal.
When asked how many homeless people there are currently in Athlone and how it compares to last year’s figure, he said: “The City’s social development and early childhood development department does not have current figures available at this time.”