Tag Archives: urban management

Helping The Homeless To Build A Sustainable Future

Mahatma Gandhi said that the true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members. Unfortunately, as South Africans, we are desensitised in part to the poverty that permeates our ordinary lives. Used to the sight of the radical impact our ever-expanding gap between the haves and have nots creates. While many of us want to help, most are uneducated on the extraordinarily complex issues that create and sustain homelessness. 

Due to our own basic understanding of these ever-evolving issues, it makes a greater difference when we partner with and give back to organisations equipped with the infrastructure, skill and experience to combat homelessness and help in a sustainable way.

“Handouts of cash given to desperate – often mentally ill people – add fuel to the same addictions that put them on the streets. Institutions such as our partners at MES have spent decades building, perfecting and maintaining the social infrastructure to efficiently maximise the impact of our donations and the results are inarguable,” says Jaco Wessels, COO of our appointed urban management company Geocentric.  

Here are our top recommendations of non-profit organisations active in 2022 and how to  contribute to their vision responsibly:

MES

MES Cape Town is a pivotal partner in efforts to sustainably rehome the homeless in many City Improvement Districts. Their extensive network of strong outreach and social relief programmes allows them to provide the reach and resources that our CID requires. They also have a reactive help desk to assist us whenever necessary to meets the immediate and short-term needs of the homeless and unemployed community. 

We work with MES extensively to source the individuals that we require as casual labour for project-specific work.  The experts at MES also scout out individuals who show promise and then place them with us every week. For those who show dedication, we offer the opportunity to be absorbed on a probationary basis as one of our workers a.k.a our Green Ants. We then provide opportunities for all our Green Ants to become supervisors, further their training and grow into an integral part of our workforce. 

To ensure that the funds they generate with us are put to good use,  we pay their stipend directly to MES. Who use it to cover the cost of their living expenses sustainably until the end of their stay. 

To get in touch, call them on +27 21 949 8736 or send an email to info@mes.org.za.

Visit their website to donate here.

Here are some tips on how you can help responsibly:

  • Donate directly to a registered and legitimate NGO in your area. Your donations do not have to be monetary either so be on the lookout for clothing items, towels, tents, blankets, pillows, bags or non-perishable groceries for institutions such as FoodForward SA.
  • Support charities and campaigns by advocating to prevent homelessness on social media. By following and sharing posts of organisations such as Women’s Shelter Movement, Ons Plek and Youth Solutions Africa you help grow their followings and advocate their cause.
  • Volunteer your time or professional skills. Everyone from the accountants among us to the karate teachers has a unique offering that can improve the lives of those less fortunate – so ask your local charities how you may dedicate your skill to improving their offering.  

Since the ratio of people in need of help, and the help available, is so unbalanced many NGOs and NPOs are left with tight funds to run the businesses themselves. By donating your, time, skill, possessions or money in a responsible way you not only help make our district a safer space but provide our homeless residents with the chance to rekindle a sense of pride, community, and dignity. 

Trial By Fire – Fire Safety In Cape Town’s Summer

Cape Town fires 2021. Source: Associated Press.

Cape Town’s fire season occurs from November through to May which are our hottest, and driest months. Together with our beloved south-easterly “Cape Doctor” – which adores clearing our city of pollution – these arid conditions create ideal opportunities for wildfires to spark and quickly rage out of control. 

From our homes and businesses to our beloved Table Mountain National Park, there are various organisations in place to manage fire safety and intervene both to avoid fires and to control them when they happen. 

It’s true that fires are a part of the South African landscape and occur naturally in grasslands, woodlands, fynbos, and sometimes in indigenous forests. However, there has been a disastrous loss of natural diversity in our fynbos ecosystem and an invasion of Australian wattles, Eucalypts and Mediterranean pines. Now, our fires burn hotter for longer and each fire destroys more than the last. Meaning it’s more important now than ever to actively keep your home, family and business safe and to protect the life and value they hold. 

Home and Work Checklist for Fire Safety

  • Ember-proofing any area, requires the removal of all flammable plants up to 7m from a building, as well as overhanging branches. Checking and cleaning gutters and roofing for debris is important too. 
  • Always remember, your safety is first and if you are not properly trained, call for assistance. 
  • Make sure that all your insurance documents and other important documentation are backed up securely to the cloud.
  • Assign tasks to staff and run fire drills so that everyone is prepared in an emergency.
  • If you need to stay and help fight fires, cover your head, nose and mouth and protect your eyes with goggles. Wear good shoes and gloves.
  • If you have access to water, wet the roof and gutters to stop hot ash from burning the roof.
  • Keep grass cut as short as possible as it helps slow the fire.
  • Keep a hose pipe rolled up and ready.
  • Keep fire extinguishers around that are regularly maintained and train your staff on how to use them safely and correctly.

Other interventions that you can implement on a larger scale include considering your construction materials if you are remodelling and supplementing them for fire-resistant alternatives. You should also ensure full continued compliance with all local and national fire safety codes and think about installing fire protection systems such as overhead sprinklers. 

Unfortunately, despite all the precautions, a fire can happen to any size business at any time. That is why protecting your employees and your property should be a top priority. Following the above steps will help you avoid any fires breaking out and minimise fire-related damages. While there may be no such thing as truly “fireproof,” these guidelines are an excellent starting point for safeguarding your business. 

Additional Resources

Preventing fires in the Western Cape

City of Cape Town  –  Basic Household Fire Safety

Fire is Everyone’s Fight Toolkit of guidelines and posters with lesson plans

Sanparks  –  Fire management / Table Mountain National Park Fire Management Plan

Contact information for  the Fire and Rescue Service Department

24-hour emergencies: 107 (landline) or 021 480 7700 (cellphone)

General fire safety enquiries: 021 590 1971 / 021 590 1975

To report a fire : Hotline: 086 110 6417 or The City’s Regional Fire Control No: (021) 590 1900

Welcoming a new year, new challenges and new triumphs

As we charge into 2022, there is undeniable trepidation surrounding the new challenges and triumphs the year will bring. This year we will continue to create an urban ecosystem that is safe, accessible and inviting to all the workers, visitors and community members of our district. As in years before, we are unwavering in our commitment to the property and business owners of our area and intend to consolidate and elevate our services based on the successes of last year.  

In 2022 we strive to:  

  • Create a safe and clean public environment by addressing issues of maintenance and by cleaning our streets, pavements and public spaces.  
  • Increase public safety through proactive visible patrolling and by supporting the efforts of the SAPS, City of Cape Town and private security providers.  
  • Manage existing and new public infrastructure for the future benefit of our community members.   
  • Decrease property-related crime to protect community members through our security-related partnerships and to protect property values to attract new investment to the area.  
  • Support the promotion of the businesses in our area by implementing urban greening, promoting energy efficiency initiatives, widening our recycling networks and bettering our risk and disaster management services.  
  • Support and promote social responsibility in the area and assist with the management and upliftment of people living on the streets.  
  • Encourage the maintenance and upgrading of private properties and public spaces in the area. 

We believe in the heart of our institution that the challenges we face are not insurmountable. 

Together with the City of Cape Town, our partners, outreach initiatives and local business owners, we will continue to strive towards reinvigorating our urban environment. Ultimately, together we can create a stable, safe, clean area that is prosperous for our community both economically and socially.  

Headlines from the City  

The City of Cape Town warns to be aware of scammers posing as electricity officials to gain access to your wallet and home. All officials will have an identification card with the City logo, with their name and surname and a photo. If you have any doubts call the COCT on 0860 103 089 to confirm their ID and work order number. 

The City of Cape Town urges their suppliers to be cautious of fake Request for Quotation (RFQ) emails sent to them, as if it is being sent from the City. Please report any suspicious emails to the City for further investigation.  

Struggling to pay your rates and taxes? The City of Cape Town has a wide range of financial relief options available. To learn more, click  here.   

Top 10 Tips To Keep Your Store Safe This Festive Season

While many of us see the festive season as a time to kick back and relax, for the retail sector it is the busiest time of the year. With high volumes of high-value stock, seasonal staff and more capital flowing through our premises than any other time of the year staying safe is a definite priority. 

Maintaining visibility throughout your store, being alert to suspicious activity and taking precautions during the opening and closing of your facility are excellent places to start. However, there is more you can do to keep yourself, your business and your employees safe this festive season. 

10 Things To Keep Your Store Safe:

  1. Suspicious vehicles  – Be vigilant of what is around your business, especially at opening and closing times.
  2. Suspicious persons – People who intend to shoplift often wear inappropriate clothing for the weather – such as heavy coats during hot days.
  3. Be prepared for a crisis – Having a list of emergency numbers clearly visible means your employees know who to call in an emergent situation.
  4. Be prepared for crime – Placing static panic buttons in strategic areas of your store, like in the cash office, storeroom, or under the till register can help employees call for help in armed robbery scenarios.
  5. Shine a light – Keep the premises well-lit, both inside and out, especially at night so that patrols and security can clearly see potential intruders. 
  6. Travel together – Two or more staff members should leave the premises together at the end of shifts.
  7. Stay visible – Use a clearly public entrance to the business and avoid any secluded entry points not covered by surveillance cameras.
  8. Clean your cameras – Make sure all individuals can be clearly identified by the cameras as the video footage assists the SAPS with investigations.
  9. Test your cameras – Inspect your CCTV cameras regularly, ensuring they are fully functioning without any blind spots.
  10. Deposit cash ASAP – Do not keep a large amount of cash inside the store and change your pattern of banking to avoid being tracked and targeted. 

Sustainable security is a balance between a safety-conscious employee culture, a properly equipped property and employers who prioritise creating a safe working experience. Letting your customers and staff know that you care about their safety this busy season will make your customers feel safe and your staff feel valued – both of which boost your confidence and your bottom line. 

If you have any safety concerns to share, please contact one of the following numbers:

·       10111 – SAPS (South African Police Services)

·        107 – City of Cape Town Disaster Management

·        021 565 0900 – Geocentric Control Room 

How to Prepare Your Property For the Festive Season

After a challenging 2021, filled with great uncertainty and change globally, many of us are looking forward to wrapping things up for a well deserved holiday with family and friends. Ensuring that your property is secure and your business protected is the best Christmas gift you can give yourself and will give you the peace of mind that will allow you to relax and recuperate. 

Here are our top tips to keep your property safe so you can enjoy the merry season: 

Protecting Your Property:

  1. Ensure you have an alarm – Have an alarm installed by a reputable security company that you trust. Effective alarm systems include armed response services, detection beams, window sensors and electric fences.  
  1. Make sure that your alarm system is working – This includes checking that the backup battery works by doing a final test with your security company. 
  1. Do a thorough physical perimeter check – Ensure there are no access points, such as gaps in the fence, that intruders could enter through.
  1. Check your access points – Make sure that all doors, gates, windows, locks, security bars and roller shutters are in proper working condition and properly locked when you leave the premises.  
  1. Remove potential tools – All wooden pallets, tires and other items that could be used to breach the perimeter of your property must be stored away and all trees and bushes must be trimmed to ensure possible intruders can’t hide in them. 
  1. Collect all keys – All copies of keys, access cards and remote controls for gates and garage doors that are not in use during your absence must be handed in and secured.
  1. Check your emergency contact – The emergency contact number should be for someone with access to ALL entry points of the property. Their contact details should be displayed on the outside of the property for emergency services to contact them in case of fire, theft or crisis. 
  1. Be prepared for an emergency – Keep a list of emergency service providers such as a plumber, electrician and general contractor handy. You should also phone them and get the details of the appropriate staff that will be on call during the festive holidays.
  1. Do your banking beforehand – Do not leave any valuable items or cash on the premises if they cannot be properly secured. 
  1. Install adequate exterior lighting – This serves both as a deterrent and to help authorities catch suspicious persons lurking near your property. Connecting outdoor lights to timers and motion sensors can also help you save on your power bill.
  1. Check the lights – All exterior lights should be in working order as they are a deterrent to criminals and essential for the detection of a potential intruder by security. 
  1. Do your CCTV camera maintenance – If you have CCTV cameras on your premises, ensure they are placed strategically with no blind spots and have been inspected and that their backup batteries are in proper working condition. 

Prevention is better than cure, and we urge all property owners to make every effort to properly prepare for the coming weeks. After a challenging year for all, we sincerely hope that you can rest easy in the knowledge that we will be working through the festive season to keep your homes and businesses safe. 

To share your story with us and stand a chance to be featured in one of our future newsletters email us at media@geocentric.co.za.

If you have any safety concerns to share, please contact one of the following numbers:

·       10111 – SAPS (South African Police Services)

·        107 – City of Cape Town Disaster Management

·        021 565 0900 – Geocentric Control Room 

To contact the City of Cape Town 

Please use the City’s Customer Services call centre to request a service or query your account. You will receive a reference number that you can use to track the request. The best option is to use the City’s website www.capetown.gov.za and select ‘Service Requests’ on the home page, then follow instructions and capture each location as a separate request. The service selections and location determine to which department the request is routed by the system.

You can also send an email to the call centre contactus@capetown.gov.za for each request stating the request, location, complainant’s name, complainant’s contact details and any additional comments. 

You can also SMS 31373 (Maximum 160 characters) OR Call 086 010 3089

To report

Street People

  • Call 0800 872 201

Illegal dumping

Traffic or Taxi issues

  • Call 021 596 1999 or 0860 765 423

Drugs

  • Send an email to Drug.stop@capetown.gov.za
  • For drug treatment and support contact the City’s toll-free helpline on 0800 43 57 48 (0800 HELP 4 U).

Illegal Activity

  • Contact Law Enforcement/Metro Police on 0860 765 423 or 107

Emergency

  • In a life or property threatening situation…
  • Call 107 from a landline or 112 from a cell phone or 021 480 7700

Water and Sanitation related complaints (Burst pipe, water outage, blocked drain, etc.)

Faulty water management devices

Water restriction violation

Solid Waste Department

  • Call centre: 0860 103 089
  • Email: wastewise@capetown.gov.za

Electricity

Faults and enquiries

  • Call centre: 0860 103 089
  • Email: faultreporting.centre@capetown.gov.za
  • SMS: 31220

Geocentric Launches New App

“As Geocentric we are very proud to launch our new mobile phone reporting application,” said Gene Lohrentz of the urban management company recently. “This is another way in which we are enabling our CID business and property owners to interact with their City Improvement District Management. 

“We want our CID contributors to become part of our family by interacting with us about issues they might encounter.  The mobile application makes that possible on the devices most people have with them every day.” 

Geocentric Reporting App 2

The Geocentric app allows users to easily report issues in the City Improvement Districts managed by Geocentric Urban Management based in South Africa.  Currently the areas covered by this Application include Beaconvale Industrial Area, Elsies River Industrial, Glosderry, Maitland, Salt River, Somerset West CBD, Stikland Industrial, Strand CBD and the Tygervalley CBD.  

With this application users can report urban defects, crime incidents, public safety issues and general comments.  “We will acknowledge your report and provide you with feedback throughout the process.  We will also send you ‘Alerts’ of problems in your CID area, such as water leaks or power outages and we can even send crime alerts and safety tips to your mobile phone. 

The Geocentric Reporting Application is Free of Charge 

Simply install it and register as a user when using it for the first time.  If you need any help, please contact support@geocentric.co.za 

Geocentric Reporting App 1

Let’s get started! 

  • Simply download and install the App from the Google Play or Apple App Store  
  • Register as a user, using the app when you open it for the first time 
  • We will send you a confirmation email and you will have to activate your app by clicking on the activation link in the email – this is to ensure we are dealing with people and not spammers. 
  • Go to your email and verify your email address 
  • Log in and you are ready to go! 

 

Illegal Dumping in the Spotlight

The problem of illegal dumping is prevalent in Beaconvale and is one of the main challenges that the BVID has to contend with. 

  • Initially illegal dumping was rife, but now it is sporadic. 
  • People are prepared to change but only if they are constantly monitored and warned regarding the consequences of dumping. 
  • Some incidents stem from persons coming to the various scrap dealers and trying to dump waste not accepted by them. This comes from street persons / horse and cart operators and unscrupulous waste handlers. 
  • BVID engages with these persons and encourages them to make use of the City’s drop off facilities, of which Parow Drop off Facility is situated a mere 2 km’s away and disposal is free of charge. We also indicate that if caught and reported to Law Enforcement they can face fines up to R20 000. 

 illegal dumping2

The paragraphs BELOW are extracts from the website of the City of Cape Town, where it is pointed out that dumping is highly illegal. 

The question can be asked: What exactly does illegal dumping entail?  

“Illegal dumping is the depositing, discharging, spilling or releasing of any kind of waste in or on any public space. This includes waste that is loose or in boxes, barrels or bags 

“Public places include: 

  • open fields; 
  • vacant or occupied land; 
  • roadsides; 
  • sewer systems; and 
  • waterways. 

“Although the City has a number of waste management strategies and services in place for dealing with all types of waste, we have a dumping problem in Cape Town. It is one of the biggest challenges the Solid Waste Management Department faces. It is expensive, damages our environment and is harmful to ourselves and our animals.” 

PLEASE NOTE 

“Dumping on any public land is illegal and an offence: We work closely with SAPS in illegal dumping investigations. If you are found guilty of dumping illegally you could be fined between R500 and R10 000 and could get a prison sentence of 6 months to 2 years. 

To report illegal dumping in your community, call 0860 103 089. 

If you have the culprit’s vehicle registration number and/or can identify him/her, call 021 400 6157 or email solidwaste.bylaw@capetown.gov.za. “ 

On the website, the City of Cape Town goes on to appeal to residents and businesses to assist in curbing and dealing with the problem: 

Help us control dumping 

illegal dumping1

Look out for our Big Green Bins
Green waste bins have been placed near toilets in informal settlements and public toilets so that residents can dispose of waste properly. In 2014/2015 and 2015/2016, the City rolled out 929 bins in 24 informal settlements at a cost of approximately R753 000. Eventually these bins will be placed in all informal settlements where we are legally able to place them. 

Do your part 

  • Dispose of your waste only in bins and at approved drop-off or landfill sites. 
  • Buy additional waste bins if you need them. 
  • Make others aware of the importance of keeping our environment clean and litter free. 
  • Fence off your property to prevent others from dumping on it. 

Report illegal dumping  

To report illegal dumping in your community, call 0860 103 089. If you have the culprit’s vehicle registration number and/or can identify him/her, call 021 400 6157 or email: solidwaste.bylaw@capetown.gov.za.  

In order to be sure that you are fully informed on the contents of the City’s Waste Management By-law, visit the website www.capetown.gov.za  

City of Cape Town: Integrated Waste Management By-law, 2009 

Published in Province of Western Cape: Provincial Gazette no. 6651 on 21 August 2009 

  1. Amended by City of Cape Town: Integrated Waste Management Amendment By-law, 2010 on 4 June 2010 
  1. Amended by City of Cape Town: Integrated Waste Management Amendment By-law, 2016 on 30 June 2016 

Urban Management Trolley Introduced

The Geocentric Urban Management Trolley Project was initiated in 2017. 

The aim of the project is to provide urban cleaning and maintenance teams with a platform to improve their daily tasks, assist with moving of equipment and tools and enable recycling while performing their tasks. 

A few design considerations were introduced into the design of the trolley including 

  • The ability to move heavy loads of litter or recycling from one point to another without effort or potential injury 
  • Create high visibility for the cleaning and maintenance teams 
  • Have quick and easy access to tools and equipment 
  • The ability, even when fully loaded, to easy ascend and descend kerbs and sidewalks 
  • Be able to separate waste as they work to support the recycling initiative 

To achieve some of these design principles, Geocentric looked at simple solutions from other designs, for example, the stair-climbing suitcases used by so many travellers.  By scaling up the design for the urban management trolleys, we could produce a sidewalk and pavement climbing trolley where the urban management worker needs minimum effort to get onto and off pavements to perform their duties.  

(See photos of step 1, 2 and 3 illustrating this concept.) 

step1

step2

step3

The trolleys were also designed to be pushed from any side with key tools located in the middle so that it is in fact easy to use it for a two-man team operation.  On each side of the trolley a plastic tool box allows storage for small tools. 

Recyclables like tin cans, glass and plastic bottles are collected by the urban management workers throughout the day as they clean the streets and public spaces and at the end of each day they separate the items into baskets whereafter Geocentric recycles the items. 

trolley 4 trolley 5

This is another way in which we make CID operations more sustainable and environmentally friendly as we prevent a vast amount of waste from simply going to landfills. 

trolley 6

Geocentric have rolled out these trollies in the Elsies River and Beaconvale City Improvement Districts and plan to roll them out to all the other CIDs under Geocentric management through the course of 2018. 

Beaconvale gaining ground

Thanks to the commitment of all who are involved in the Beaconvale Improvement District drive, strides of progress are being made in various ways. 

The accompanying images tell the story of how problems like illegal dumping and the confiscation of stolen trolleys and wheelie-bins are successfully addressed by the teams. 

The Public Safety issues that are addressed during the day-to-day activities, include problems related to the following:  

  • Illegal Dumping 
  • Engaging with the public (public safety officers engage with all people in the public space to ensure that everyone is aware of the BVID’s presence and activities. This is done in conjunction with and in support of the law enforcement officer seconded to the Stikland CID, who oversees such activities. If something suspicious is found, the Law Enforcement Officer and/or SAPS act accordingly. 
  • Bin scratching  
  • CCTV visuals followed up if necessary  
  • Trolley and wheelie-bin confiscation 

 trolley abuse1 trolley abuse2

The Cleaning issues include: 

  • Litter picking 
  • De-weeding 
  • Sweeping streets 

cleaning1 cleaning2 cleaning3 cleaning4

On the Urban management side, the BVID Management continues to log all urban and infrastructure defects as C3* notifications with the City of Cape Town for correction. (*This is a system introduced by the City of Cape Town by which the public can report urban defects / problems / law enforcement issues – to them via various platforms, such as sms (31373 – all issues except electrical and 31220 for electrical issues), call centre (086 103 089) and e-mail. (https://www.capetown.gov.za/en/ServiceRequests/Pages/default.aspx) 

collaborating with CCT(2) collaborating with CCT(1)