The NKRA is grateful for the support provided in the 4th Street park by our park sponsors PAM GOLDING PROPERTIES and VISION TACTICAL SECURITY.

PGPPGP

NKRA Communique – February 2021

Hi everyone

The Covid-19 pandemic continues to continue, and it will be a while before most of us get the vaccine. Now that we are on Lockdown Level One, more people are going out and about. Please continue to observe social distancing, please wear your mask and sanitise your hands, and please continue to be very careful. We are far from safe just yet.

There are still some “sad spots” in Killarney-Riviera, where a particular vicinity looks very scruffy and neglected. This could be due to rubbish being dumped illegally, or it could be due to grass and weeds growing out of control. Sometimes it is on the pavement outside a building which simply doesn’t care, and sometimes it is on a pavement which is not adjacent to any building, and nobody is taking ownership. If this “sad spot” happens to be on a highly-visible main traffic route through the suburb, then the adverse perception it creates will impact negatively on all of us. Our tax-funded municipality cannot be relied upon to do these basic maintenance jobs, but fortunately we can manage this ourselves with some thought and effort.

The NKRA’s park gardener was “redeployed” recently for a day to remove all the mature weeds that were growing on the 4th Avenue Bridge, but we cannot spare him from the park to maintain the whole suburb – he only works three days a week for us, and looking after the park is a huge task on its own. On a few occasions in the past we have hired a service provider to address specific issues, but it would be better (and cheaper) if our many buildings could each make an occasional small effort to sort out an area in need. Some buildings are actually doing this already, to great effect, and if you (or perhaps your building’s garden staff) could spare a few hours, a lot can be achieved.

We ought to acknowledge and thank the trustees at Sevenoaks, who recently repaired their own pavement. They filled the major holes using cold ready-mix asphalt, which costs only R89 per bag at Builders Warehouse. It takes a bit of planning and effort, and it is not free, but as a result of their efforts one more stretch of pavement is now neater and safer.

The remaining major street potholes in Killarney have still not been repaired. Cars are being damaged by these holes, especially at night, and they pose a serious safety risk to cyclists in particular. JRA originally assured me that these problems would all be fixed by the end of February. However I then received another email informing me that they are struggling with “the impact of Covid-19” which is forcing them to work with a “reduced staff complement”, as well as a separate notification that the municipal asphalt plant has ground to a halt yet again. I have attempted to follow this up, but their email has gone silent.

I have at least received reference numbers for the most serious pothole problems, as follows:
• 1st Street between 2nd Ave and 4th Ave – Ref 3903380?
• 5th Street between 2nd Ave and 4th Ave – Ref 3903381?
• Intersection of 4th Ave and 2nd Street – Ref 3903382?
• Intersection of 4th Ave and 3rd Street – Ref 3903383?
• 4th Ave on the bridge – Ref 3903385?
• Intersection of 3rd Ave and 7th Street – Ref 3903384?
• Newtown Road, cnr 9th Ave – Ref 3903379?

JRA have fixed potholes for us recently all along 2nd Avenue, so I was happy to rely on them, but now they are several weeks behind schedule, and have stopped responding to my emails. The NKRA is thus poised to fix the major issues ourselves. The NKRA members have repeatedly agreed for us to spend up to a maximum amount of R40,000 on fixing the most serious road and pavement issues. We can therefore go ahead with this project at any time.

However fixing holes in a main road is actually quite dangerous – particularly in Newtown Road where the potholes are on a blind corner, and where vehicles fly down the hill from Hillbrow and around the corner through the yield sign. I am happy to address serious pavement issues, as well as major potholes in quieter streets, but repairing potholes in high-traffic roads such as Newtown Road and 4th Avenue presents a serious safety risk, which would probably require the temporary closure of a lane. Hopefully the JRA will eventually fix at least the problems in the high-traffic roads. I will continue pestering the JRA for service delivery, and I ask the ward councillor to help us with this frustrating process. Once the JRA have done what they are willing to do (if anything) then the NKRA will undertake a project to fix the remaining serious issues.

It would help a lot in the meanwhile if the residents living near serious potholes would continue to fill them up with stones and gravel. Please would you also help us by reporting all cases of potholes and other damage on roads and pavements, through the following channels:
• JRA customer contact centre: 0860 562 874
• Email them at hotline@jra.org.za
• Tweet them at @MyJra
Please be very clear on the exact location of the problem, and include a photo where possible. If the pothole is really large then the full extent of the problem might not be clear on the photo, so it might be an idea to include a familiar object in the photo as well, such as a cold-drink can, to demonstrate the scale of the hole.

The municipal palisade “security fence” at the 7th Street circle, which was vandalised months ago, has still not been fixed. This parking area is already the scene for illegal hawkers, and people are camping on the motorway embankment, so if we don’t maintain the area it could go downhill rapidly. The Council doesn’t seem to have the money or the will to fix the fence, so we will probably have to do it ourselves. We have received a quotation from a recommended company to fix this fence, in the amount of R6,470. If any member building objects to us undertaking this project, please would you let us know urgently?

If you notice any municipal service-delivery issues at all, please report these problems to the municipality on 011 375 5555, and wait for them to give you a reference number. It helps if you call them repeatedly, as it seems that they give higher priorities to issues that are the subject of larger numbers of calls. In addition, our ward councillor has provided us with the following avenues to log municipal issues online:
• CITY POWER – citypower.mobi
• JOBURG WATER (sewage issues, burst pipes, leaking water meters etc) – Email them at customer@jwater.co.za
• Johannesburg Roads Agency (potholes, reinstatements, storm water drains, manholes, pavement repairs) – Email them at hotline@jra.org.za
• CITY PARKS (all municipal tree issues, park issues and pavement grass) – email them at trees@jhbcityparks.com or at jmoodley@jhbcityparks.com.
• BILLING issues and for a new Pikitup Bin – email to regionErevenue@joburg.org.za

Please get a reference number. If the issue is not resolved within a week or so, contact Ward Councillor Huggett by Whatsapp on 071 785 8068, with the following information:
* The issue in summary
* The reference number
* The detailed location address
* Your own phone number

The recurring power outages and water cuts are driving many people to distraction. It is therefore recommended that we all try to insulate ourselves from this poor municipal service delivery. We can all install some sort of water tank to provide our homes with an emergency water supply, even if we just store water in 2-litre plastic bottles under the bed. Electricity is obviously a more difficult challenge, so we would probably need to invest in individual battery inverter systems. If anybody has an inverter already, and is prepared to recommend the supplier and installer, please would you let us know?

We are aware that many people are struggling with food insecurity. We will thus continue with our various individual contributions to the SA Harvest food security project. In addition, we are also continuing to maintain our little communal vegetable garden in the park. Our NKRA park gardener has for years been planting various seeds in a narrow bed against the Park Avenue fence, alongside the ablution block, and when the plants ripen everybody is allowed to harvest the produce. We have also planted a few avocado trees in the park, which will hopefully start providing fruit in the near future. If anybody is willing to help with this food-growing project, please do let us know. If you are able and willing to contribute tools or seeds to this project, please would you drop them off with Nolicent Ntete at the park on Mondays or Thursdays.

The SAPS Sector Patrol Car still exists, but the dedicated cell-phone in that car is not always answered. However the services of the patrol car can still be requested by calling our SAPS sector manager, Sergeant Mdlolo, on 082 355 5646. Failing that, please call the 10111 SAPS emergency number.

Our project to install high-spec security video cameras at security trouble-spots is struggling due to the need to have trained people monitoring the cameras. Not all buildings are able or willing to have their guards perform this service. We are therefore researching some other options. Meanwhile, please could you all help us by putting up LED floodlights along your perimeters to illuminate any remaining “dark areas” around your buildings, and perhaps also by trimming overhanging trees where needed.

In addition, we all need to continue to be careful with our phones and handbags, when we are out on the pavements, in our cars or in the shops. People waiting on a pavement for an Uber, with their phone in their hand, are particularly vulnerable to muggers and robbers.

Information being disseminated by insurance companies, security companies and the National Hijacking Prevention Academy (NHPA), notes that hijackings have increased by about 20% in the past year – possibly fuelled by the lockdown and the recession. The SAPS crime statistics show that Gauteng has more hijackings than any other province – although we also have more people than any other province. The highest risk locales are townships and their surrounding areas, but urban suburbs were a close second. The level of violence associated with hijacking has also increased.

Understandably hijackers prefer vehicles which are stationary, but with the engine still running. The majority of hijackings therefore occur at a gate or driveway, or at a traffic light, or any other place where you may have stopped the car for some reason.

Many hijackers apparently choose their victims at shopping malls, where they single out people who are wearing expensive clothing and jewellery, and they follow those victims from the malls until they find a suitable opportunity to commit their crimes. Please be discrete about displays of wealth in public, as this invites the attention of thieves.

Prevention is always better than cure. We can all take basic steps to reduce our risk of being hijacked, so please would you all share the following general advice with everyone you know:
* Stay fully alert near your home – the front gate is one of the biggest hotspots.
* Ensure your gates close properly, and that motorists watch the gate close completely before driving away – whether coming in or going out.
* Ensure the lighting around the building is good, particularly around the gates.
* Reduce dense shrubs near the gates, to reduce areas of shadow where hijackers can hide.
* Be extra alert during periods of load-shedding and power failures.
* Be aware of parked cars with multiple people sitting in them, and ensure that your security guards are informed to keep a look-out for any such cars near your building.
* If you notice that you are being followed, or if you see people loitering near your gate, drive past your gate and go to a police station, or to a protected area such as a busy mall.
* Most armed response companies offer a service to meet you at your gate, especially if you are returning late at night.
* Provide your guards with remote panic buttons, so that an armed response vehicle can be summoned as soon as the problem becomes apparent.
* Avoid distractions such as cell-phones and sat-nav. If you are driving to an unfamiliar area, do some homework in advance so that you do not need to stop anywhere to check a map etc. Teach your children to sit quietly in the car, so that the driver can concentrate on the road and on your surroundings.
* Always drive with your windows closed and doors locked. Don’t open your window to interact with vendors or beggars at traffic lights.
* Be careful at the entrance to a mall or office park, if you need to open your window to take a parking ticket, or to insert the paid ticket on the way out. Check for loiterers before you enter the driveway or open a window.
* Try to avoid following routines and regular routes, especially if you drive a lot at night.
* Try to drift slowly up to a red traffic light, rather than pulling up and stopping completely, as a moving car is more difficult and risky to hijack.
* When you are stopped anywhere, keep the car in gear so that you can move off fast if necessary. Put the car in reverse if you are stopped at a gate, or at a traffic light with nobody behind you.
* When stopping behind another vehicle, try to leave enough space in front of your vehicle so that you can pull out around them if needed.
* Hijackers apparently sometimes bump into your car at intersections, to lure you out of your car. Don’t get out of your car to check the damage, especially at night or on a quiet road – rather drive to a police station or protected parking area, and signal the other driver to follow you. If they run away your insurance will cover your car – it’s better than risking a hijacking.
* Never pick up hitchhikers. If they appear to be in distress, call the police and give them the location of the hitchhikers.
* Tell family members when you go out, so that if you don’t come home at the expected time somebody will notice you are missing.
* In the event of a hijacking, the basic rule is to give them whatever they want, and to concentrate on saving your life. The exception is when you have children in the car. Almost all hijackers merely want money and cars and phones, and would prefer to avoid the inconvenience of a child, so immediately remove the child from the car and accept no arguments. However speed is important to the hijackers, so if you drag this process out they will become impatient and possibly violent. Get the child out as quickly as you can, and then let them take the car.
* If you have reason to fear being kidnapped, perhaps you should hide a spare cell-phone in the boot of your car, just in case. Load the speed-dial with police and armed response phone numbers, set up some standard SMS messages, set it to silent mode and activate the GPS tracking options. Ensure it is kept charged up.
* If your car has a tracker device, perhaps install a manual activation switch in the boot.
* Teach your children and employees what to do and what to not do in the event of a hijacking, as well as how to stay safe at home and on the road and in malls etc.
* Get to know your neighbours, and get involved with community safety efforts.
* If you notice anything that seems to be unusual or suspicious, immediately alert your security service, or call the police on 10111.

Please would the NKRA members give feedback on the fence-repair project proposed above? If members don’t specifically object, then I will assume that you are in support of this project.

We also welcome all suggestions from all other residents, on all issues.

Keep well, and keep safe. ?

Wayne Ford