The relentless campaign to aggressively combat grease and grime in Newcastle is finally paying off, thanks to the resilience of hundreds of volunteers.
The initiative, which was launched last year, only attracted a handful of people at its inception. However, the number rapidly grew, attracting hundreds of volunteers from civic organisations, the business sector and environmental activists.
The municipality is also fast becoming a case study, as other municipalities seek to emulate and adopt similar strategies of tackling unwanted waste.
Newcastle Mayor Cllr Dr Ntuthuko Mahlaba says the campaign’s growth will also reposition the municipality as the preferred investment destination, due to the residents’ willingness and receptive attitude towards an eco-friendly environment.
Furthermore, Mayor Mahlaba also says he also hopes the municipality’s approach towards sustaining a clean environment will unlock economic opportunities, and boost job creation for those wishing to conduct business in the area.
He has further thanked the volunteers, who have persevered by braving inclement weather, taking time off their busy schedules, to ensure the streets are dirt free.
“We will finally achieve our objective of ensuring that dirt becomes a problem of the past. I understand it’s a process, which might not be achieved overnight, but it’s doable if we keep our heads down and continue cleaning,” says Cllr Dr Mahlaba.
Furthermore, he explains that this is a culture which the municipality seeks to inculcate and instil in residents.
“We need to normalise the practice of using bins, even if it means training people daily, we will enrol such campaigns. However, I must say that we are gradually seeing positive results in some areas. The level of litter has declined in some streets. We need to practice patience as we tackle one problem at a time. I’m humbled by the principled men and women who tirelessly dedicate their time, without missing a single day to take part in this noble cause. I will work side by side with the residents until we accomplish our goal. There will be unwarranted criticism, but we remain undeterred,” said Cllr Dr Mahlaba.
Mahlaba has called for the immediate expansion of the program in other parts of the municipality.
“We’ve begun taking the campaign to Madadeni, Osizweni and Blaauwbosch. We need more volunteers from these areas to take part in the program every Wednesday and Sunday morning at 8 am.”
These progressive strides have prompted the local taxi drivers’ association to adopt the program, by introducing the “keeping taxi ranks clean” initiative, committing themselves to clean up the taxi ranks.
They’ve also joined forces with the municipality, asked for the provision of cleaning equipment and devoted themselves to educating passengers about the economic advantages of a clean area.
On Wednesday, January 8, Cllr Dr Mahlaba interacted with stakeholders from the taxi industry and unreservedly welcomed these recent developments.
“This campaign is yielding positive results and we also want to be part of it. It’s not normal to operate in a filthy environment. We understand the health repercussions that grime has on people’s health, and we also don’t want to attract flies. We will encourage our passengers to throw litter in dustbins provided by the municipality. We’ve asked the municipality to provide us with cleaning equipment and we will take it from there,” remarked a taxi owner.
During the campaign rubble was removed from over hundred storm drains, clogged pipes were cleared, and municipal workers were immediately dispatched to remove uncontrollable weed from pavements.