Five mayoral projects worth nearly R6-million which had to be postponed when opposition parties voted against the Nelson Mandela Bay adjustment budget have now been approved.
The projects cover management of public open space, tourism and new job opportunities, aid to poor communities, and animal welfare.
Nelson Mandela Bay mayoral chief of staff Kristoff Adelbert said yesterday the adjustment budget had been vetoed by opposition parties on February 27.
It had subsequently been approved and funds had been allocated which needed to be spent by the end of June, before the new financial year.
“The first mayoral project began this morning with a start on R1-million worth of repairs and upgrades in the Baakens River Valley,” he said.
“[It] includes overhauls of weirs that have been washed away or have become dangerous, and will include the construction of fish ladders.”
NMU fish ecologist Professor Nadine Strydom made an urgent call in December for fish ladders to be installed in the Baakens.
She said the valley’s indigenous fish, including a rare redfin minnow, were being restricted by manmade blockages, preventing them from escaping from pollution spills and predatory alien fish.
Adelbert said four other projects initiated by mayor Athol Trollip would also now be going ahead.
These were the upgrade and extension of the Apple Express line (R3.5-million), clearing of alien bush in crime hotspots (R1-million), the spaying of dogs in poor communities (R250 000) and the tagging of wandering cattle (R100 000).
The metro’s mayoral committee member for economic development, tourism and agriculture, Andrew Whitfield, said yesterday the Apple Express project would begin with work on a key bridge linking the train to the harbour and nearby tourism products like the Campanile and Route 67.
The project, to be rolled out in partnership with Transnet, also includes extension of the line to Gqeberha.
Apple Express chief executive Nerina Skuy said in March this would be a win-win development, giving passengers the chance to engage with the township community and residents a chance to trade via arts and crafts and cultural programmes.
Adelbert said the project to clear bush in crime hotspots would start in the northern areas and then move to Uitenhage and back to areas like Motherwell, Wells Estate and Kuyga.
“The areas were identified through extensive consultation between the mayor’s office, ward councillors, the parks sub-directorate and coastal management.
“A key focus will be the pedestrian routes to the IPTS bus depots.
“The overgrowth to be cleared is predominantly alien vegetation, but senior members of the Tree Society have volunteered their assistance during the clearing to ensure that indigenous vegetation is preserved.”
Adelbert said the aim of the spaying project was to “serve residents who would normally not be able to afford to spay or neuter their dogs, and to do so free of charge”.
Animal welfare activist Marizaan Ferreira said the project was a milestone as NGOs had until now never managed to get the ear of the metro, and it would alleviate the suffering of dogs in poor communities.