NKRA Communique – December 2020
Unfortunately, after almost a year of lock-downs, isolation and economic devastation, the Covid-19 pandemic now seems to be getting worse not better. With the inevitable holiday parties “raging”, hundreds of South Africans are now dying every day, and tens of thousands of new cases are being reported every week. Please take extra care when stepping out, in these testing times.
Despite the gloom, some people are still working to make the world a better place. For example, residents from Dumbarton Oaks and Brenthurst Court are working together to beautify the 2nd Avenue pavement between their two buildings. Some hardy and colourful ground covers have already been planted, and more will soon follow. Many thanks to all concerned for this excellent initiative, which benefits us all.
A few weeks after our request, City Parks recently pruned the big pavement trees all along 3rd Street. The work was done by people who clearly know how to prune big trees, and this service will improve road-safety as well as preserve the health of the trees in question. Thank you to City Parks – they are undoubtedly one of the most response of the municipal departments.
After many requests from us, supported by much additional prodding from the ward councillor, the Johannesburg Roads Agency has finally repaired the most serious potholes in 2nd Avenue – from Mentone Court up to the 3rd Street intersection. We are grateful for that service as well.
However there are still many more potholes needing to be fixed. They are less serious than the potholes that have just been fixed by the JRA, but as the rains continue, these potholes will get steadily worse. If these potholes are not repaired early in January, we will undertake a project to repair them ourselves, along with areas of pavements which have become dangerously uneven. We will obviously not address every minor flaw in every road and pavement surface, but we will focus on the most dangerous issues only. We also cannot fix water leak reinstatements unless they have been properly compacted, which takes time, and we cannot fix those manholes in the street, as they require correctly-designed and -constructed brick enclosures and steel covers.
In order to facilitate this repair process in the continued absence of physical NKRA meetings, I propose that the NKRA members agree to authorise a spending cap on this project – perhaps up to a maximum of R40,000? A previous pavement-repairing project cost less, but that was two years ago, with a different set of issues. Please would the members give feedback on this suggestion, so that we can scale the project?
Please would you also help us by reporting to us all serious potholes, or areas where pavements are dangerously uneven, so that we can build up a project scope. We currently have the following issues on our list:
1. 1st Street outside Killarney Gardens, also on the pavement
2. Intersection of 2nd Ave and 5th Street – also on the pavement
3. 3rd Street outside house
4. 5th Street between 2nd Ave and 4th Ave
5. Intersection of 4th Ave and 2nd Street
6. Intersection of 4th Ave and 3rd Street
7. 4th Ave pavement outside the park
8. 4th Ave on the bridge
9. Intersection of 3rd Ave and 7th Street
10. Intersection of 3rd Ave and 8th Street – on the pavement
11. Intersection of Newton Road and 9th Street
On the downside, the municipal palisade “security fence” at the 7th Street circle has been vandalised. It took a lot of effort for somebody to do this much damage, and there is no apparent explanation for this. Maybe it was done to allow homeless people to camp on the motorway embankment once more? Please could the residents in the area keep a close eye on that embankment going forward?
We need to be vigilant about illegal dumping – once a spot becomes an “established” dumping site, other people pile on the rubble. For the removal of illegal dumping, please call 0860 562 874 to log an issue. To report illegal dumping to Pikitup, call 011 688 1500 or 011 712 5200, or email them at email@example.com. The JMPD by-law enforcement number is 082 467 9434. You can also report cases of illegal dumping, “bad buildings”, people camping on pavements and similar issues to the municipality on 0800 002 587. Please try all the numbers – some of the people who answer a phone are more helpful than others, or may have better capacity on the day. The more times residents report an issue, the better our chances of the municipality actually reacting.
A few weeks ago, the Green Team from Vision Tactical Security visited Killarney, and cleaned up the area around the traffic circle in 7th Street. They removed a lot of illegally-dumped rubble, as well as fragments of the shattered dustbin. They also cut the grass on the pavement on both sides of the road. They tried to repair the vandalised concrete palisade fence, but were unable to secure it in place. Many thanks to Vision Tactical for these efforts, which they performed free of charge as a contribution to the community.
As previously reported, the NKRA contracted with RCS Security to remove the broken pavement dustbin at the circle in 7th Street, to clean up the serious litter and rubble on the pavement and car-park in 7th Street, and to clean up the serious litter and rubble on the motorway embankment adjacent to the car-park. The job included providing two skips to remove the vast amount of collected litter and rubble. The shattered dustbin at the 7th Street circle was too heavy to remove in one piece, so it first had to be smashed into smaller pieces with a hammer. They also cleared weeds and rubble from along the 7th Street northern pavement as far as the Nedbank property. Many thanks to RCS Security for this service.
The area now obviously looks much better and cleaner, but people have already resumed illegal dumping in that area, and we can expect this to be an on-going problem. It would be great if a neighbouring building could point a security camera at the eastern corner of the car park where the hawker sits, as that corner seems to attract most of the dumping.
The JMPD has recently increased its presence in Killarney somewhat, thanks to the on-going efforts of the CPF, Ward Councillor Huggett and Vision Tactical Security. Hopefully this heightened level of visible enforcement will continue right through the holiday period.
As previously reported, the NKRA contracted RCS Security to provide a cleaner to clean the streets around the illegal taxi rank in 1st Street. This person is obviously able to monitor the various illegal activities in real-time, and he is reporting back to the security company accordingly. He works five days a week, Thursday to Monday, so as to also cover the weekends when the littering (and the illegal activities) are at their height. We will run the project for three months, and then we will review progress and fine-tune our approach.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there is currently a national curfew in place. This means that nobody is allowed to be outside on the pavements from 11pm to 4am, unless that have a “good reason”. Having a drinking party on the pavement does not count as a good reason, so if you note a gathering on the pavement after 11pm, please call the police.
The SAPS Sector Patrol Car still exists, but the dedicated cell-phone in that car is not currently working. Meanwhile the services of the patrol car can be requested by calling our SAPS sector manager, Sergeant Mdlolo, on 082 355 5646. However failing that, please call the 10111 SAPS emergency number.
We have had a number of cell-phone snatchings this year on the pavements, as well as purses and bags. The criminals can see the various security guards and patrols, and they time their crimes for when the guards are too far away to intervene. Please all try to resist the temptation to stare at your phone when you are walking or standing on the pavement, as these are the situations which the criminals target for preference.
We are planning to install high-spec security video cameras at trouble-spots all around the suburb, to monitor all types of illegal activities, to accumulate video evidence to assist the police with their investigations, and to hopefully create some deterrence. We have installed such a camera at Daventry Court in 1st Street, and it has given us good footage as well as real-time surveillance of a trouble-spot. Chartwell has volunteered to host such a camera for us at the troublesome corner of 3rd Street and Killarney Avenue, with Vision Tactical providing the monitoring service. In January we will finalise the planning, procurement and installation.
We are also trying to arrange for another such camera to be installed at the intersection of 1st Street and 2nd Ave, where the street drinkers currently gather. Before the trouble-makers can be prosecuted, they will need to be caught in the street and arrested in the street, by the police. People are legally allowed to gather on pavements, and the problem is that the drinkers see the police vehicles approaching, and then pack away their alcohol before the police can reach them. The camera operators therefore need to zoom in on faces and bottle-labels, so as to record the crimes in progress, and then we will have a better chance to make a successful case.
The NKRA will pay for (and continue to own) these security cameras, which cost over R20,000 each. We do however need buildings to volunteer to host the cameras. Hosting includes providing electricity to the camera, and training your guards to operate it. The cell-phone snatchers jump into cars to make a quick getaway, so the guards will need to react quickly in order to get an armed response car on site in time to pursue the getaway car successfully.
The law-breakers move around the area, so our NKRA strategy is to establish a number of camera-installation points all around Killarney over time, and to be able to relocate our cameras ourselves from building to building as needed, to keep up the pressure on the law-breakers. The technical challenges of this strategy are substantial, but manageable.
Over time we will also build up a “database” of people who drink alcohol illegally on our pavements, by obtaining close-up photos of them using these high-definition cameras. We will then circulate these photos to see if anybody knows their names and addresses, so as to further assist the police.
We have requested a proposal from Vision Tactical Security to patrol the entire area with their armed response cars, since about half of our buildings are already clients of Vision Tactical. The Vision Tactical responders are also trained and equipped to provide first-aid services. These area patrol services are very expensive, but if we can manage to afford them then they will add a great deal of value to us all.
If you notice any service-delivery issues, please continue to call the municipal help-desk and report these problems (011 375 5555). The municipal departments monitor the help-desk logs, so please call the help-desk, log the issues, and wait for them to give you a reference number.
Simultaneously, the ward councillor provides the urban inspector with lists of issues in the area on an on-going basis. Please would you all help us in maintaining an up-to-date list of outstanding issues, by sending a proper description thereof, together with the precise location of each issue and your reference number, to Councillor Huggett at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please be very specific with these reports, and please include photos where possible – that seems to help.
Water leaks are a particular problem. Not only does the leaking water contribute to the growth of potholes, but clean water is obviously a scarce resource. We can report all leaks to Joburg Water at their 24-hour hotline on 0860 562 874, or by sending an SMS to 082 653 2143 or an email to email@example.com. Alternately we can use the general City of Johannesburg hotline on 011 375 5555. Joburg Water can be a bit slow to respond, but we need to keep trying.
Please would our members give feedback on all the projects proposed above? If members don’t specifically object, then I will assume that you are in support of these projects. If any member building does object to any of our proposed projects, please would you raise the issue urgently so that it can be discussed?
We also welcome all suggestions from all other residents, on all issues.
I wish you all a peaceful year-end break, a safe and healthy New Year celebration, and all of the best things for the fresh New Year ahead.
Keep well, and keep safe.