Notes from underground

يارب يسوع المسيح ابن اللّه الحيّ إرحمني أنا الخاطئ

Archive for the tag “Tshwane”

The Great (and dirty) City of Tshwane

This morning as we were driving to church we saw a bakkie dumping rubbish at the side of the R104 near the entrance to Saulsville. If we hadn’t been late we might have slowed down and taken a photo of it, but it is becoming all too common.

On the way home I did take several photos.

R104, entrance to Atteridgeville West.

All over the city there is rubbish dumped like this. Not just in Atteridgeville, but near the Botanic Gardens in the east, and in various other places, and it has been getting worse and worse. The place in Atteridgeville is noticeable because we drive past it once a fortnight, and see each time how more and more of the verges are covered with rubbish. Littering has become part of our lifestyle.

Political parties love to blame other parties for maladministration, but it was bad when the ANC confrolled the city council, and it is worse now that the DA controls the city council. It doesn’t matter who you vote for, the municipal administration will remain just as putrid as the rubbish littering the streets.

Thirty years ago I visited Singapore, which was then reputed to be the cleanest city in the world. And the reason was not far to seek — as you walked down the street, you would see lots of signs informing you that the fine for littering was $750. And that law was strictly enforced.

The City of Tshwane could deal with this in similar fashion.

Increase the fine for littering to R5000 or so, put up signs, and employ the Metro Police see that the law is enforced.

As one sports shoe manufacturer likes to tell us, Just do it.


Kitsch Corner, Tshwane

The Great City of Tshwane has its very own Kitsch Corner.

In Hatfield, in the east of Pretoria, at the corner of Jan Shoba (Duncan) and South Streets, are two buildings that seem to represent concentrated essence of kitsch.
Kitsch01This one looks vaguely like a church, or an office building got up to look like a church. It’s rumoured that somewhere inside there is a church.

Kitsch02On the other side of South Street is this/ It’s a shopping centre/office block of sorts, very 1990s in design, but it is surrounded by fibreglass statues of animals that look quite out of place in the urban or suburban setting.

Kitsch03Looking south along Jan Shoba (Duncan) Street, you can see both buildings adding kitsch upon kitsch. It is clear that the whole is kitschier than the sum of its parts.

Kitsch04One plastic giraffe might have been acceptable, a nice decoration for the parking lot, but add the lion and the elephants and even the poor old giraffe looks ridiculous.

Kitsch05On it’s own, and looking from the front, even the lion on the roof doesn’t look too bad, but when you see it from the side, or in relation to the rest of them, it looks over the top.

Kitsch07Back in the 1950s people used to travel to Pretoria to admitre the architecture of the office buildings, which seemed so much more imaginative than those in Johannesburg. Now those buildings are rather decayed and down-at-heel, and would excite no comment. But would people come from far and wide to see these ones? I doubt it, unless they came to laugh.

Kitsch08So  there it is, in all it’s glory. Kitsch Corner, Tshwane. I wonder if anyone will add to it? But as long as they keep it all in one area, at least it will keep the rest of the city free of it.


The City of Tshwane gets it right: a service-delivery thank you

When local government bodies get things wrong, people are quick to complain, and one of the phrases that we have seen a lot of in the media lately is “service-delivery protests”.

But sometimes they get things right, and people tend to say less about that.

When we were coming home from church this morning we noticed that municipal workers were plasnting trees in George Storar Drive. Not little saplings, but full-grown jacaranda trees, for which Pretoria has been famous. It is now late spring, and the jacarandas are blooming — here they are in Middel Street, at the eastern end of George Storar Drive.

Jacaranda time in Brooklyn

Jacaranda time in Brooklyn

George Storar Drive had a few small trees in the centre islands, barely more than shrubs, and some flower beds, but if they take in their new home, these full-grown trees should look quite spectacular in a couple of seasons’ time, and change the whole appearance of the road.

Tshwane City Council workers planting jacaranda trees in George Storar Drive

Tshwane City Council workers planting jacaranda trees in George Storar Drive

George Storar Drive is, in a way, the entrance to the academic part of the city, as there are a lot of educational instituions along it, or that it leads to, including the University of Pretoria, and the University of South Africa as well a several high schools.

Some of the newly=planted trees -- the holse have not yet been filled in.

Some of the newly=planted trees — the holes have not yet been filled in.

It looks as though some trees had to be removed because a road was being widened somewhere else, so congratulations to the city authorities for thinking of another place to put them, a plac e where they will look really good.

In a couple of years we hope to see the newly transplanted trees looking like this.

In a couple of years we hope to see the newly transplanted trees looking like this.

Jacarandas are exotic to South Africa, and a few years ago there was a lot of antipathy in official circles to illegal alien vegetation, and under that policy Pretoria would have lost all its jacarandas, for which it has been famous for years. Lots of places that had alien vegetation have been cleared, but now the policy has been softened a bit. A few days ago I was listening to a radio programme about the Tsitsikama forest, and someone was saying that exotic trees, like wattles, protected the indigenous forest, because the wattles were available for firewood, whereas if they were not people would be chopping down trees in the few remaining bits of indigenous forest for that purpose.

About a month ago we noted that where former council houses were damaged in a severe hailstorm last year, the city council was helping the residents to replace the old asbestos roofs with galvanised iron ones, which, in addtion to being more resistant to hail damage, are also made of a safer material.

So congratulations to the City Council of Tshwane for good ideas for beautifying the city and improving the quality of life of its citizens in different ways. If anyone from the city counsil is reading this, they can take it as a service-delivery thank you.

After the rain

As usual we went to church in Mamelodi this morning, for the Hours and Readers Service (Obednitsa), and sang “Many Years” to old Mary Nthite, whose name day it was yesterday.

The sun was shining brightly after the wet and cloudy weather of the last few days, with fluffy white cumulus clouds, and even the old and rather rundown shopping centre looked quite attractive.

On the way home, in East Lynne, we passed a stretch limo that indicates that World Cup fever is beginning to bite.

But it seems that our national team will be nowhere near ready. But we’ve still got a few months to get the national anthem right, however, after the fiasco at a rugby match in France last week. We lost that match, too.

ANC Thatcherism: Pretoria refuse collection resumes after two week strike

SABCNews – Main Feature > Top Stories:

Refuse collection is finally under way in Pretoria after waste removal workers, employed on a contract basis by the Tshwane Metro Council went on a two-week-long strike. The workers were demanding overtime payments for September, which the council paid to them last Friday.

Although the strike is over, rubbish is still overflowing in certain parts of the city including at two garden refuse sites in Rooihuiskraal and Dorandia. The council’s Dikeledi Phiri says a ‘damage control’ schedule has been devised to fix the problem as soon as possible. It is unclear if Pretoria residents will be billed for services not rendered over the two-week period.

Just in time, too. If it had gone on for another week I’d have been collecting old tyres to burn in Soutpansberg Road, which seems to be the standard method of complaining about poor service delivery nowadays.

This episode illustrates some of the problems of the Thatcherist mania for privatisation, which is still with is nearly 20 years after Margaret Thatcher resigned.

Rubbish removal is one of the core services of the monicipality. It is not something that should be contracted out to others, and the ANC-controlled Tshwane City Council should know better.

Rubbish removal should be done by by municipal workers using municipally-owned vehicles. If the municipality contracts it out, then they are simply abdicating their responsibility. If they really think that it should be done by private enterprise, then let each household make its own contract with a rubbish-removal service provider of its choice, and let us live with the consequences (cheap fly-by-night operators dumping it at the roadside when no one is looking). And then let the municipal rates be reduced accordingly.

Why is it better that this service should be done by the municipality, at least in larger towns (when we lived in Melmoth, in Zululand, population about 2000, the rubbish was put in plastic bags and collected by a tractor pulling a trailer)? In the big towns we have wheelie bins, which need specially equipped compactor lorries to collect. If a private firm were to tender for this, for say three years, they would have to have a lot of capital to equip themselves to begin with. And if their tender was not renewed, they would stand to lose a lot of capital, unless they sold it to the next operator. And, what is more, the workers for the firm that lost the tender bid would also stand to lose their jobs, and probably end up having to resort to crime for a living. To make such a system work more smoothly, it would need a lot more lubrication than a fully-owned municipal undertaking. The lubrication would probably take the form of greasing the palms of municipal officials and such things.

It would be better for the municipality to trun the operation, with a stable work force who had at least a modicum of job security, a pension and a medical aid, which contract workers don’t get. And then we wonder why we have such a high crime rate.

Twenty-first century urban life

My son works at Exclus1ve Books in Menlyn Mall. They used to be Exclusive Books, but they recently changed their name to Exclus1ve Books, presumably to make it easier, or more difficult, as the case may be, to search for on the Internet.

When he’s on night shift he usually cycles to work, and then when he finishes work we go to fetch him, because he doesn’t have a light on his bike, and people tend to drive more dangerously at night. Last night when bringing him home I stopped for a red light and a guy who had been following me overtook and drove through at high speed. He was driving a big BMW. They, of course, are immune from accidents, because all other traffic is expected to automatically get out of the way. Anyway, that kind of thing is why my son doesn’t ride his bike home when he’s on night shift.

When I wait for him to finish work, here’s what I see from one of the parking lots.

The blue lights in the tree seem to be intended as Christmas decorations or something; they’ve been there for a month already. It seems to get earlier every year. If he’s late getting out of the shop I have to leave and drive around the block. They only give you 20 minutes free parking, which is one of the reasons I don’t often shop there myself. There are other shopping malls that give up to 2 hours of free parking on weekdays, so i patronise those instead.

The Times – Let’s stay off Resentment Road

Jonathan Jansen writes about visiting Durban recently and finding that many of the streets had been renamed, and questions the wisdom of renaming places to commemorate political party hacks.

The Times – Let’s stay off Resentment Road:

Imagine, for example, naming a street after Julius Malema, the youthful idiot who found a way of remaining in the news by threatening to “eliminate” or “crush” the enemies of his campaign to seat Jacob Zuma in the presidency.

As the Sarah Palin of South African politics, he is a dangerous demagogue rescued from obscurity and not sure what to do with his new-found power other than display his limited vocabulary with words like “kill”. Apartheid taught him well.

I have to admit a certain amount of sympathy. I too visited Durban recently, and had the problem of finding myself in Problem Mkhize Road, and wondering what Problem Mkhize had done for Durban. Though I have to admit that I didn’t really know what Mr Cowey (after whom the road was previously named) had done for Durban either.

One of the nice things about the 1990s was that after our first democratic elections a lot of places and buildings named after politicians got renamed with neutral names. The Marais Viljoen Building down the road from us was sensibly named Compensation House (it houses the offices of the Workmens Compensation Commissioner). The Hendrik Verwoerd Dam was renamed to something neutral. Jan Smuts Airport became the Johannesburg International Airport — that was a bit silly, because it isn’t in Johannesburg, it’s in Ekurhuleni. Now it’s the O.R. Tambo International Airport, so it doesn’t really matter where it is.

I liked the idea of removing the names of politicians (especially living ones) from the names of places, because naming things after politicians smacks of totalitarianism to me. In Moscow, Kalinin Propekt is now Arbat again, and Kaliningrad is back to being Tver.

One of the last acts of the last Nationalist city council of Pretoria was to rename Kilnerton Road to C.R. Swart Drive. Part of it has been re-re-named back to Kilnerton Road, but the rest remains with the name of C.R. Swart. That, it seemed to me, was a calculated insult to black people. The Kilnerton Institute was a well-known educational institution in eastern Pretoria, run by the Methodist Church. Many black South African leaders received their education there. In the 1960s it was closed down as part of the ethnic cleansing that took place to implement apartheid, and renaming the road seemed to be a deliberate attempt to remove even its memory. C.R. Swart, however, was Minister of Justice in the 1950s, and presided over the introduction of some of the most oppressive and racist legislation ever to disgrace our statute book. I would not be at all sorry to see his Drive go.

I’ve got nothing against O.R. Tambo or Pixley ka Seme, or Rick Turner or Alan Paton. They were certainly not repulsive like C.R. Swart and worked for freedom and justice rather than to oppress people. But I wonder how happy they would have been to have things named after them?

But the Nationalist City Council of Pretoria has gone too. Pretoria joined with twelve other local authorities to become part of the megacity of Tshwane, and Pretoria no longer has its own city council; it is only part of a bigger city. There is now only the council of the City of Tshwane. I’m quite happy about that. Nobody seems to quite know who Tshwane was, except that he is said to have once lived in the area. That’s a bit like Cowie’s Hill. Unlike Mr Cowey of Cowey Road, Mr Cowie lived on his hill.

The amalgamation of municipalities and local authorities seems to be a worldwide phenomenon. As Jasper fforde, the author of the books about Thurday Next, the literary detective, points out, the Cheshire Cat of Lewis Carroll’s Alice books is now the Unitary Authority of Warrington Cat. And “City of Tshwane” is much easier to say than “Unity Authority of Warrington” or “Nelson Mandela Metropole”.

Now suddenly we seem to be back to the 1950s, when the Nationalists were renaming everything after their party hacks. As Bob Dylan once sang, “Oh no, no no, I’ve been through this movie before.”

Post Navigation