Quarterly review from the MDGA chairman

As the first quarter of the year comes to a close, the heavy rains we experienced earlier this month are a reminder that another change of season is also upon us. It has been a busy and intense three months since my last message after 2021 more or less picked up where 2020 left off. Despite the challenges, however, we’re also seeing a number of positive developments – starting with improvements to the way we communicate with our members.

Communications

After consulting with residents and holding lengthy internal discussions, the Marina da Gama Association Executive Committee (MDGA ExCom) voted to replace our quarterly printed magazine, Marina da Gama News, with a blog linked to our website, Facebook page, and weekly email newsletter.

We are sensitive to the fact that many Marina residents enjoyed reading our magazine. In the digital age, however, it no longer performed effectively as our main channel of communication. Rather than receiving news and updates every three months, people now want to know about developments in the Marina on a weekly and daily basis, even hourly when security issues are involved.

Consequently, our quarterly magazine became a luxury we could no longer justify. Instead, we believe our funds are better spent on publishing a regular flow of timely, relevant, and informative content through our online channels – including our new blog.

We are equally sensitive to the fact that not everyone has access to email or the internet. So, if you are concerned that you or anyone you know may be deprived of important information, please let us know and we will do whatever we can to fill the communication gap.

Meanwhile, a huge thanks to our magazine designer, Kim Horne, whose skill, talent, and hard work over so many years ensured Marina da Gama News always looked like a quality publication.

Waterways

Talking of communication, ExCom members have had their hands and inboxes full dealing with residents’ complaints about our broken down Kingfisher and rising levels of floating algae on our waterways. We hear you loud and clear! In response, we have been working intensively behind the scenes to try and get the old weed eater repaired and establish exactly when work will start on building its replacement. Our efforts have included extensive correspondence with the City of Cape Town and a face-to-face meeting with Aimee Kuhl, our Ward Councillor.

Once we have their answers to our persistent questions, we will share them with you immediately. At present, however, we have nothing to report except that we have nothing of substance to report. For now, we will continue to cover the cost of deploying teams to remove the algae by hand.

Finance & Controls

We are pleased to advise members that just 10 days after the end of the last financial year, we were in a positon to publish our unaudited financials along with a preliminary budget for the 2021-22 financial year.

Thanks to our improved controls, timely reporting and accurate budgeting, we are able to react speedily to members’ concerns while still producing a surplus that we hold in reserve to cover future outgoings. In addition, residents can now access and comment on monthly updates showing how we are spending their levies.

To protect the MDGA and our staff, we have taken steps to make our office in the Eastlake Shopping Centre cashless by introducing a credit card machine. This will also help to further strengthen our levy collection efforts. We are appealing to everyone who can afford to pay their R700 levy to pay it by the end of this month. If, however, you are not in a position to pay for any reason, such as the pandemic, please contact us and we will do whatever we can to assist. We will continue to pursue non-payers and charge all debt collection costs to their account.

Security

Our Security portfolio holder reports a number of significant development in his regular round-up, which you can read in full here. Among other developments, we have held extensive meetings with security reps in each of our precincts tabulated their specific responses and requirements, and shared mutually beneficial information between them.

In addition, ExCom voted to change our LPR camera service provider from iTrack to Navic following the conclusion of our study into the Marina’s Licence License Plate Recognition (LPR) infrastructure. Deep Blue will continue to provide our armed response back-up while monitoring and maintaining our network of our cameras. We will also continue to focus on securing the Marina’s perimeter.

Standards

ExCom welcomed our new Standards portfolio holder, John Lubbe, to his first Ex EXCom meeting on 9 March. We are already feeling the benefits of his steadying influence and he has some great and inclusive ideas to share.

We continue to follow up on standards-related complaints and we are pleased to see that, despite the severe financial costs of the pandemic, an encouraging number of residents have been busy repairing, painting, and upgrading their properties. Good work!

As we reported earlier, we also finished painting the Prince George Drive wall in just over 10 days and well within the R200,000 budget we set in 2019. Again: good work!

Parks & Open Spaces

At the start of the new financial year, our Parks & Gardens portfolio launched a new working model comprising one active representative from each of the Marina’s three islands working with a team of six gardeners. To make our gardeners easy to recognise, we will shortly be issuing them with overalls carrying the MDGA logo. We are confident that the new model will produce successful results for our residents while benefiting our gardeners with stable employment and a regular wage.

Events

Thanks to everyone who helped to make our first-ever quiz and dinner night at the Marina Pub & Bistro in Eastlake Shopping Centre such a success. A respectable total of 15 teams took part in the event. Through ticket sales and donations, we managed to raise R860 towards the South African Guide-Dogs Association for the Blind.

Jamie and her team will be hosting our next quiz night and dinner night on Monday 29 March, starting at 7.00pm. Save the date!

M3-M5 road link

We are currently seeing a growing number of young families moving into the area to share our wonderful environment. And regardless of age or circumstances, the ExCom is determined to preserve the Marina’s status as one of Cape Town’s safest and most beautiful residential suburbs for the benefit of everyone who lives here.

With this in mind, we have engaged with the City of Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee to re-activate the stalled development of the M5-M3 road link. This will be a long process. But with time, effort and perseverance, it is achievable.

It will be the single biggest development in our area and will have massive – and positive – implications for property prices and security in the Marina and the surrounding neighbourhoods that are forced to deal with the early morning and evening traffic jams through Muizenberg. 

Thank you!

I am continually amazed and gratified by the long hours that my ExCom colleagues devote to making the Marina such a wonderful place for us all to live in. I am sure you will join me in thanking them for their hard work and dedication. Your reward is to live in a better place today than yesterday because of their efforts.

Reinforcing safety through partnerships

Meeting security reps

Since the start of the year, Peter Allen, who holds the Marina da Gama Association Executive Committee (ExCom)’s Security portfolio, has chaired a number of productive meetings with security reps across several Marina precincts. He is currently scheduling a meeting with security reps in Uitsig as well as the Uitsig Neighbourhood Watch. After that, Peter will begin his next round of meetings, starting again with the security reps in Battleridge before making his way back to UItsig.

Meeting SAPS

Members of the ExCom recently met the Muizenberg Police Station Commander, Colonel Naidoo, and his Deputy Commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Roussow. Their insights and input gave us a better understanding of the challenges that SAPS currently has to deal with. Among others, they include vehicle shortages; manpower issues, with office staff working split shifts during the pandemic; and the station’s deteriorating condition.

Unfortunately, plans to build a new police station at Vrygrond are nowhere close to approval or even finalisation thanks to the tangle of red tape between SAPS and the Department of Public Works. Despite these problems, it is clear that members of Muizenberg SAPS – from the top down – are committed to giving their best to prevent and investigate crime in our area.

Looking ahead, ExCom members will continue to meet the Station Commander every four to six weeks, depending on schedules, to understand how we can best help each other keep Marina residents safe and secure.  

Crime stats low (but could be lower)

On a positive note, the CCTV camera initiatives across the Marina are proving highly effective. Our crime levels remain extremely low except in Uitsig, where six crimes were recorded during February.

ExCom agrees to raise levies by R50 per annum

At its monthly meeting on 9 February 2021, the Marina da Gama Association Executive Committee (MDGA ExCom) agreed to increase members’ levies from R650 to R700, effective 1 March 2021, and payable by 31st March 2021.

Given the tough economic conditions, we did not take this decision lightly and we did whatever we could to limit the increase to less than R1 per week. This means that your levies have risen by just R60 over the last two years following 2020’s R10 increase. Furthermore, we believe that R700 per year – or less than R2 per day – represents excellent value for money.

Where does your R700 go?

The increase comes as the ExCom’s operating expenses also continue to increase alongside an increasingly busy work schedule. Here is just a snapshot of where we spend your money:

Security

We have spent about R200,000 on procuring cameras using funds from our reserves, while the monthly monitoring costs are over R10,000, or R120,000 annually.

Parks & Open Spaces

To date, the annual cost of employing the Marina’s gardening team has run at around R70,000. But as the City of Cape Town (CoCT) steps back from its obligation to maintain our parks and open spaces, this figure is set to double as we fill the gap.

Communications

The cost of keeping residents fully informed is around R52,000 annually. This cost covers the recent upgrade of our website (mdga.co.za), the production of our quarterly magazine, and managing our various online communication channels. Phase 2 of the upgrade is set to start this month.

MDGA office

Rental on the MDGA office in Eastlake shopping centre is R66,000 a year. The cost of employing our two office staff, Marcia Fritz and Robbie Johnston, is around R260,000 a year.

Of course, the value of the office is not only financial. It’s the place where residents can access Archcom’s professional and impartial guidance on their buildings and alterations. It’s the principal channel for communicating with CoCT’s key decision-makers and officials and acts as a repository for the Marina’s history. Furthermore, the MDGA office is where residents can express their concerns and always receive a sympathetic hearing.

We are conscious that we can always do more to ensure residents receive maximum returns on their levy payments. In the interests of transparency, we encourage residents to access the profit and loss statement and financials that we publish every month.

Boundary wall painted on time and under budget

Hopefully, other Marina residents share our pride in our newly repainted wall along Prince George Drive.

The job was completed in record time and came in under the R200,000 budget agreed by MDGA members at our Annual General Meeting (AGM) back in 2019. A truly remarkable achievement!

We are particularly proud that the painting was finished in just over a fortnight by two SMMEs and a social enterprise. The painting squad included a significant number of tradespeople who line the wall every morning hoping to find work. In total, we were able to offer employment to around 25 people on wages that we agreed with the contractors. This eliminated the risk of anyone being exploited.

The headline figures are as follows:
• Contractors and supervisor R122,000
• Paints and associated materials R58,000
• Other costs (including toilets etc.) R17,000

There will be some adjustments to these figures and we expect the total to be closer to R190,000.

Meanwhile, we would like to extend our thanks to our contractors and their staff as well as our Standards officer, Robbie Johnston, Alan Hepple, who provided valuable advice on paints, and our project supervisor, John Lubbe. Without their hard work and selfless commitment, this project would not have happened.

As a footnote to this update, we would like to add that the project was started by our ExCom colleague and friend, Digby Colman, who sadly passed away on 2 March 2021 from complications linked to the COVID-19 virus. We would like to dedicate this success story to his memory.