Delilah Sao Joao of Strubens Road in Mowbray

Delilah Sao Joao of Strubens Road in Mowbray

 

The persistent efforts of a lone Mowbray resident is proof that one person can indeed make a difference. Fed up with an untidy neighbourhood, Delilah Sao Joao, a resident of Strubens Road in Mowbray has taken it upon herself to instigate a clean-up in her residential area.

“Around December 2011,” says Sao Joao, “I grew weary of cleaning the street in my neighbourhood myself, so I contacted the City of Cape Town about the unsatisfactory situation in and around the Strubens and Durban Road vicinity. It is a major problem area as it is near the taxi rank, bus depot and train station where there are high volumes of commuters and pedestrian traffic.”

Although municipal workers clean the streets and bins from time to time, Sao Joao found that due to the high pedestrian volumes around the transport interchange, the bins would soon overflow, spilling their contents onto the road. The situation was further aggravated by spillage from refuse trucks as they went on their collection rounds.

She requested that additional bins be placed along Strubens and Durban Road, which was done, but according to Sao Joao, the problem persisted because of ongoing littering by pedestrians. Numerous emails were sent to the City of Cape Town requesting more frequent street cleaning, and although there was some increased response with cleaners arriving from time to time, it was still not regular enough to deal with the high volumes of litter in the area.

This situation continued throughout 2012 until one day in November, while out running in Newlands, Sao Joao encountered GSCID cleaning staff in Main Street, Newlands. “I stopped to ask them about their organisation and the workers were extremely helpful, providing me with further information about the GSCID andsuggested that I make contact with their management.”

An email was sent to GSCID CEO, Anthony Davies, outlining the litter problems particular to Strubens Road. Despite initially being asked to refer her complaints to the City of Cape Town as this area falls outside the GSCID’s mandated area, Davies soon thereafter advised that he was willing to investigate a solution to the problem this in spite of the fact that this area is outside the boundaries of the GSCID.  

Together with Hannes van der Merwe of Straatwerk OPHELP Projekte, an organisation geared to uplifting the homeless by providing employment and already delivering a dedicated cleaning service to the GSCID within their boundaries, various problem areas in Strubens Road were identified. These included a closed and unused subway filled with garbage and water,  and illegal dumping. “With a monthly contribution from our complex’s body corporate and other members of the public, the Strubens Road clean-up operation finally got off the ground at the end of 2012,” says Sao Joao.

“It took an entire year of pleading with the Municipality to attend to the clean up on a regular basis with no sustainable result, yet barely a month after my initial request to the GSCID and assistance involving Hannes van der Merwe from Straatwerk,  their teams were out in full force cleaning the street every Saturday from 10am to 2pm. “

“We encountered some initial problems, however,” says Sao Joao, “as the refuse bags from the clean-up operation were left on the corner of Durban and Strubens Roads every Saturday afternoon for pick up by the Municipality on a Monday, or sometimes only as late as Thursday. By this time, the refuse bags had often been ripped open by vagrants or animals and the garbage was once again strewn all over the street. The  Straatwerk cleaning day has now been changed to a Wednesday so that the bags can be collected by the Municipality on their weekly Thursday refuse removal run in that area.

“Since liaising with the GSCID and Straatwerk about the various issues in the area, there has definitely been a huge improvement in the situation compared to a few months ago,” says Sao Joao.  She paid tribute to the excellent work done by Straatwerk’s workers who “leave the street spotless” after their shift.

Sao Joao extended her sincere gratitude to Anthony Davies and the GSCID team, as well as to Hannes van der Merwe and his Straatwerk team for their assistance and dedication.   “I’m encouraged to persevere in my efforts to keep our streets and environment hygienic and pleasurable to live in, as well as creating an opportunity for many unemployed people living on the streets in the Western Cape.”

Anthony Davies says that Straatwerk continue to do amazing work cleaning the streets and parks of the main road from Newlands through to Observatory. Their official name is Straatwerk Ophelp Projekte. As a job creation and rehabilitation ministry they provide work for unemployable and desperate people. Members of the public and businesses are encouraged to, as Delilah Sao Joao has done, to contact Straatwerk for any manual labour intensive jobs that are needed especially heavy work in cleaning up gardens and other outside areas. Please contact Hannes van der Merwe on  072 607 4508.

For more information regarding the services of Straatwerk which are also available to the public, visit: http://www.straatwerk.org.za/.

 

 

 

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