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Gqeberha is SA’s most dissed city – but not all doom and gloom
Am fulfilling a long-time commitment to visit the Eastern Cape, arriving last night in Gqeberha, the renamed city locals still call PE, which holds mixed memories. It was the home of one of my closest friends, the late Rob Armitage, but also host to much of the unhappiest stretch in my life, national service in the old SADF.
Like the rest of SA, I’ve been reading reports that the city is rapidly running our of water – a physical reflection of apparently incompetent and corrupt local governance. ‘Apparently’, because I’ve not yet been fully briefed on how much of the reported drama is to be believed, something that will hopefully be set right at BNC#4 by Action SA’s new E Cape provincial leader Athol Trollip, who we’re hoping will attend.
Depending on which reports you believe, dams serving the Nelson Mandela Bay metropole are at somewhere between 3% and 10% of capacity. Which means absent unseasonal downpours soon, vast swathes of the city will be without water. And that a lot of this is due to wastage caused by lack of maintenance – a reflection of misallocation of public resources by poor governance.
Yet, it’s not all doom and gloom. The hotel I’m staying at, No 5, is as good as any I’ve overnighted. And down the road at the Boardwalk Hotel, cricketer turned property developer Pat Flanagan is putting the final touches to a new R500m shopping centre. His company, Flanagan & Gerard, has been shepherding these kinds of long-term investments for a couple of decades, seeing past current troubles to a better future. Democracies engender that kind of hope. Sometimes it just takes voters a little longer.
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