City renews VRCID’s contract

Safety and security will be top of the agenda for the Voortrekker Road Corridor Improvement District (VRCID) during its next five-year term.

Over the next 12 months, VRCID will spend about R2 million on rolling out CCTV and Licence Plate Recognition (LPR) cameras throughout the Voortrekker corridor, which will be monitored at its dedicated control room.

Derek Bock, chief operations officer, said this was proof of their commitment to the area, the property owners, police and the City. “We are very excited about this and believe it will make a difference,” he said.

This comes as the CID’s contract has been renewed for another five years following a full council sitting.

The new contract started on Saturday July 1 and runs to June 30 2022.

There have been many challenges and successes for the VRCID over the past five years, among tem prostitution, problem buildings, homelessness and criminal activities.

Northern News previously reported on problem buildings in Bellville which included buildings along Kruskal Avenue, Voortrekker Road and the Boston Centre. VRCID said at the time, that these buildings posed health and safety risks, while some buildings had been allowed to become slum buildings (“Problem buildings pose health and safety risks”, Northern News, March 23). Mr Bock said they were currently working with the ward councillors of sub-councils 4 and 6 to deal with problem buildings. He said there was great business potential in the area but it had been left “neglected” for too long and now they were focused on getting businesses back to the corridor. Sub-council 6 chairwoman Rose Rau said it was important to give property owners confidence in the area. “We also need to give future investors confidence in the area and urban management is a critical part of this confidence,” she said.

Ms Rau said they were proud and appreciative of the additional contributions made by the businesses in the Voortrekker Road corridor area towards the safety, the cleaning, social issues and the maintenance of infrastructure. “Given the serious urban decay in the Voortrekker Road area, it has to be said that we could not cope without the work done by the VRCID.”

Mr Bock said the new Safe Space in Bellville would go a long way towards dealing with homelessness in the area (“Safe Space for homeless”, Northern News, June 15) and said the project was a result of a joint partnership with Mould Empower Serve (MES). According to VRCID’s most recent survey, there are about 700 homeless people in the corridor.

When it comes to crime, the VRCID’s main concern is the Bellville public transport interchange and Parow station – due to the influx of people passing through on a daily basis. Mr Bock said the stations were both in need of an upgrade in terms of infrastructure, which he believed would help bring investors back into the area. “We want to see businesses coming back to Bellville and for the CBD to be thriving,” he said. Bellville police spokeswoman Warrant Officer Henrietta van Niekerk said the CBD had always been a concern as crimes are reported on a more frequent basis than other areas in Bellville. She said common robbery and drug-related crimes were most common in the CBD.

Johan van der Merwe, the City of Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for finance, said the establishment of CIDs or Special Rating Areas (SRAs), was fast becoming an effective solution to halt environmental degradation and unacceptably high degrees of crime. “CIDs are essentially geographic areas in which the majority of property owners determine and agree to fund supplementary services to those normally provided by their local authority, in order to maintain and manage the public environment at a higher level. Through legislation (Municipal Property Rates Act – Section 22 and SRA By-law), the cost of the provision of services is then spread over all property owners within the specified geographic area as an additional property rate. Unlike rates, the additional property rates contributed by the property owners may only be spent in the area in which they are collected,” he said.

Mr Van der Merwe said the additional rates contributed by property owners are collected by council and paid over to the CID, which then uses them to provide a “top-up” to City services in terms of cleaning and general maintenance, safety and security, environmental enhancement, marketing of the area, and dealing with social responsibility matters. The VRCID covers a 8km stretch of road down Voortrekker Road from Goodwood to Bellville. As for successes, Mr Bock said the cleanliness of the corridor was the most evident, with their cleansing teams collecting up to 1 500kg of litter a day, in addition to the litter collected by City staff. He said they would also focus on “litter education” this term.

The VRCID also has two teams of 25 public safety officers who are deployed to patrol throughout the corridor, day and night.

Ms Rau said the VRCID was the largest CID in the City, capably led by Mr Bock, who brought with him significant experience. “Derek is a person of great detail and has set a very high standard for his team. He is in close contact with his clients, who are property owners in the area. He understands the fact that it is not a quick fix but is confident that they will achieve their goal.” Mr Bock said the team was excited about the next five years, especially with the upcoming launch of their new branding in August and the role out of surveillance cameras. “There is still much work to be done but we are excited for what lies ahead,” he said.