Centre in spotlight

Solomon Philander, the councillor for Ward 79 - which includes Beacon Valley, Portland, Mitchells Plain CBD (Town Centre) and Eastridge - speaks to the community about the state of Town Centre.

At a meeting organised by Ward 79 councillor Solomon Philander to discuss the issues affecting Town Centre, its commuters and workers, hygiene and security were top of the agenda.

About 35000 people make their way through Town Centre every day and 30000 commuters are transported to and from the hub which is also the biggest shopping area in Mitchell’s Plain.

But, said Mr Philander, “still we are facing issues of health, hygiene and security to name a few”.

He added: “Law enforcement has failed us as there are only four members per shift deployed to Town Centre and they don’t have the capacity to enforce the by-laws.”

Mitchell’s Plain South African Police Services (SAPS) are responsible for crime in Town Centre “however, it appears the deployment is not adequate”, Mr Philander added.

Other problems at Town Centre, he said, were illegal trading and the growing number of people living on the streets.

Ward committee member Carol Mentor said: “Homeless people in the Town Centre is a real issue. What is the role of the City? We should integrate the (homeless) people back into the structure. Talks and meetings were held on this issue but nothing came forth.”

Calling on those who use Town Centre to take ownership of the area, Mr Philander said: “Small things such as not littering will help make the shopping centre a better place.”

Hygiene is another major issue affecting the commuters and traders at Town Centre, with traders having no toilet facilities allocated to them, particularly in the area close to the taxi rank where there are only two working toilets

Elaborating on the traders’ concerns about hygiene, Kulsum Bakar, the vice-chairperson of the United Hawkers Forum, said in addition to the toilets being in a poor state, the dumping of rotten fruit and vegetables in the trading area made working conditions unpleasant.

“We need to respond by public engagement with stakeholders and informing traders associations about these issues,” said Mr Philander. He added that property owners were in the process of setting up a special rating area to better manage the Town Centre and that the Mayoral Urban Regeneration Programme (MURP) was working with property owners to fund the fencing-in of the Town Centre.

John Pillay, from the City’s Transport and Urban Development Authority, said they had cleaned 150 catch pits and drains over the past few months but the situation did not look good.

“There is abuse of the system. We are in the middle of a drought yet we have leaking drains. It is filled with dirt swept up by some traders as well as illegal drugs and ammunition. If we find these things it needs to be dealt with as we cannot put our workers at risk,” said Mr Pillay.