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News - Date: 08 June 2018
Written by: Anton van Zyl / Viewed: 303
The Zoutpansberger, in collaboration with the Soutpansberg Chamber of Commerce, has launched a very ambitious Adopt-Your-Pavement project in Louis Trichardt. The aim of the project is to encourage businesses and even home owners to clean the area in front of their premises.
The town, much like dozens of towns and cities in the rest of the country, has become the victim of unscrupulous con artists who paste or attach their pamphlets and flyers to lamp posts, traffic signs and almost any surface available. These con artists advertise anything from abortions to magical powders that will help you get a promotion at work or find a lost lover. To add to the woes of residents in town, many people have started dumping their rubble on street corners or open areas next to public roads.
Who must clean up the mess?
Many residents argue that the responsibility to clean up the mess lies with the municipality. This is only partly true. The municipality has a refuse-removal programme in place, but in most areas, this happens once a week. The litterbugs and con artists defile the area at a faster rate than the municipality can clean it up. Especially the poster thugs paste thousands of leaflets, almost overnight, across town.
The municipal by-laws make it illegal for anyone to put up signs or posters on pavements or next to streets without Council’s approval. Attaching or pasting any poster to a traffic sign is also illegal.
Will it work?
Research has shown that even small changes in the environment can lead to lasting effects. People are less likely to throw litter on a clean pavement.
The United Nations currently promotes a “Clean up the World” project, designed to unite communities around the world in an activity to demonstrate concern for local environments. “By participating in clean-ups, citizens can create immediate results and permanent changes in their local areas. Clean-ups should serve as catalysts for permanent changes in attitudes and behaviour and encourage adoption of practices (i.e. recycling) that can have a profound effect on waste management in the community,” say the organisers of this project.
Even in Louis Trichardt, the evidence is there that the thugs avoid areas where they feel they are wasting their time and resources. Several business and home owners remove the posters immediately when they are noticed, and these areas seem to become no-go areas for the foot soldiers of the con artists.
What can we do?
Ideally, businesses and home owners should take responsibility for the small section of the street in front of their premises. Remove the rubble and clean the street poles and areas where posters have been put up.
Placards and posters can only be put up after permission has been granted by the Makhado Municipality. The signs and posters must adhere to strict criteria and fees are payable at the municipality. The municipality must also keep record of all such applications, which is open to members of the public.
If uncertainty exists about whether or not a poster has been put up legally, the municipality can be contacted. In most cases, however, the illegal placards are not difficult to distinguish from the legal ones.
What do I win?
No prizes are given for the cleanest pavements, only appreciation. The Zoutpansberger will try and feature some of the businesses or individuals who go out of their way to beautify the town. The newspaper will devote space and time to write about the efforts people put in to create a better environment for all.
As part of the project, people will be encouraged to support the businesses that clean the areas around them. If a business is proud about its pavement, chances are very good that the owners will have a similar attitude towards their own products or service. If your neighbour is sloppy and spreads litter all over his or her pavement, pick it up. Perhaps the guilt trip will work and they will start cleaning their pavement the next week.
Can I take part?
The project is supported by the Soutpansberg Chamber of Commerce but is not limited to its members. “Ideally, we want all businesses and individuals to support the initiative,” says Jaco Voigt, chairperson of the chamber. The chamber has also canvassed the support of the Makhado Municipality.
“If we all work together, we can make a massive difference. Let’s all sweep in front of our own doorsteps and, in the process, we will turn this town into the most beautiful place to do business in the country,” he says.
“Any other input or contributions are more than welcome. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org,” he adds.
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On just about every street corner the illegal posters are visible on poles, street signs and even rubbish bins.
Anton van Zyl has been with the Zoutpansberger and Limpopo Mirror for over 27 years. He graduated at the the Rand Afrikaans University (now University of Johannesburg) and obtained a BA Communications degree. He is a founder member of the Association of Independent Publishers.