Crime, Covid, substance abuse, gender violence, unemployment and people with disabilities are among some of the priorities ward councillors in the greater Athlone area have set their sights on for 2021.
Ward 44 councillor Anthony Moses says his focus will be on serving the disabled people in his ward, as they are “almost the forgotten people”.
His other priorities include mustering community involvement in a crime-prevention strategy; substance abuse; the youth; the City’s Women for Change programme, which encourages women to take ownership of their neighbourhoods; gender violence; and health awareness.
“For the first time, we will also offer driving lessons to our unemployed youth to help them in the job-seeking environment. Fortunately, no project came to a standstill because of Covid-19, and we will also be upgrading most parks in the ward and will focus on public lighting in Silvertown and Bridgetown.”
Ward 50 councillor Angus McKenzie said his first priority for Bonteheuwel was to keep Covid-19 infections down and ensure “good adherence to the regulations”.
“With this, we will also continue with our feeding programmes, which provides meals for up to 10 000 people. The other priority is to continue driving down gang-related crime. The numbers have already reduced by 50% in the last year.
He said the Bonteheuwel CBD upgrade, a project to build 400 houses and planned roadworks would likely boost job opportunities in the area. “Last year, 300 people were employed from the community and we hope to double that this year,” he said.
Ward 60 councillor Mark Kleinschmidt said most of the projects in his ward over the past year had been completed.
“Only those that involved direct human contact were postponed or cancelled because of the vulnerability of senior citizens. Our Sub-council 17 decided collectively to purchase food parcels and health-care packs with the allotted funding. Youth-capacity-building programmes were postponed as well to prevent the spread of Covid-19 infections, and we will monitor the spread of the virus before embarking on any further human-contact activities,” he said.
Tackling crime in the ward was one of his priorities, he said.
“We have noticed an increase in burglaries and theft from motor vehicles, and this could be because of the weak economy and unemployment. The scourge of substance abuse and drug peddling, prostitution and muggings also remain a challenge.”
Homelessness in the vicinity of the Lansdowne station precinct was also a “major challenge”, he said.
“I have used ward-allocation funding to appoint a precinct manager and Expanded Public Works Programme team to monitor and clean this area. We have conducted Covid-19 awareness campaigns and skills upliftment projects to address the prevalence of rampant unemployment. This has also been conducted at the Flamingo Heights informal settlement in Lansdowne,” he added.