Cape Agulhas Municipality: Delivering outstanding services to southernmost residents and visitors

Across the length and breadth of South Africa municipalities are striving to improve the socio economic balance for residents. One cannot travel any further south in Africa than to Cape Agulhas, where a Category B (Local) Municipality is situated within the Overberg District.

Cape Agulhas Municipality (CAM) can be regarded as the southernmost local municipality in Africa. Its coastline is surrounded by the Atlantic and Indian oceans which meet at the most southern town in Africa, named L’Agulhas. Cape Agulhas Municipality borders the municipalities of Swellendam, Theewaterskloof and Overstrand. Both the administration headquarters of CAM and the ODM is situated in Bredasdorp.

The Municipal Area covers approximately 2,411km² and includes the towns of Bredasdorp and Napier, the coastal towns of Arniston, Struisbaai, L’Agulhas and Suiderstrand and the rural settlements of Protem and Klipdale. It also includes Elim which is a private town and a vast rural area. The administrative seat of the Municipality is in Bredasdorp.

According to the 2011 census the municipality has a population of 33,038 people in 10,162 households.

The municipality aims to serve its population with a strong focus, outlined on the official website: “We the Cape Agulhas Municipality will strive to render the best affordable municipal services in a sympathetic manner to the whole area and its inhabitants in order to create a happy economic active and informed community.

“This will be achieved through: enhanced service levels in the whole area; enhanced human development and health; sustainable development; effective financial management of municipal resources and institutional transformation,” it affirms.

CAM provides a wide range of services including the supply and maintenance of electrical infrastructure.

The municipality’s Housing Department is responsible for new housing, public services, which include aspects such as maintenance of public open spaces, squatter control, beaches, holiday resorts, graveyards, public facilities such as community halls, sport fields and ablution facilities, town planning and building control. The Council has an approved 10 year housing plan which is updated annually.

CAM’s Town Planning Section comprises of four functions: development planning, planning control, planning enforcement and environment.

It is responsible for: processing development applications such as special consents; subdivisions; rezoning; relaxation applications; scrutinising of building plans; spatial/ forward planning interventions such as the Urban Renewal Project and Beach Front Development Framework; all queries relating to zoning and land use controls for properties that fall within the municipality.

The Department of Planning and Building Control is responsible for ensuring that all development is done in accordance with the applicable legislation, as well as the Council-approved Town Planning Schemes.

The functions of the building section include: construction of new buildings; alterations, extensions or conversions of existing buildings; change in use of existing buildings; demolition of existing buildings or structures; evaluation of building plan applications; inspections of building premises at building sites iro foundations, sewerage and building line restrictions; issuing of occupation certificates; control of illegal construction and control over advertising signs and standard regulations on advertising signs and the defacing of street fronts (PN 593 of 1958 as amended ) and the Council’s policy on advertisings signs (SAMOAC).

CAM is also involved in a number of environmental issues such as refuse collection and animal control.

Bredasdorp has a licenced regional landfill site for household refuse and building rubble. Napier, Waenhuiskrans and Struisbaai have drop-off facilities from where refuse is transported in special containers and deposited at the landfill site. Garden refuse is chipped and converted to compost by a local contractor. CAM recently purchased a chipper machine for this purpose.

CAM also has a recycling programme in place. Recyclable materials are collected from households and businesses and deposited at the recycling plant where it is processed by a local contractor and sold to recycling organisations.

A Storm water Masterplan was completed in 2007 for CAM to prioritise upgrading and maintenance to the storm water system. The Department of Provincial Roads allocated R4.7 million to upgrading Long Street in Bredasdorp in the current year, after the application was completed three years ago.

CAM is also responsible for the local road system, encompassing three main roads with numerous residential streets, comprising 147.3 kilometres or bitumen roads and 36.2 kilometres of gravel roads, as well as storm water systems are maintained by this department. An electronic pavement management plan is in place to assist in upgrading and maintaining streets and storm water. The first system was done in 2005 and upgraded in 2009. This system needs to be upgraded every 5 years in order to prioritise maintenance and resealing of roads.

Tourism plays an important part in the local economy and the holiday town L’Agulhas is situated at the southernmost tip of Africa.  The Cape Agulhas coastline attracts anglers and is known as the Ship’s Graveyard. Sea temperatures in summer are 20-22 degrees and not much lower during winter. During school holidays, L’Agulhas is a hub of activity.

Waenhuiskrans/Arniston Resort is two hours’ drive from Cape Town along the N2, over Sir Lowry’s Pass to Caledon, through the cornfields of the Overberg to Bredasdorp and on to Arniston/Waenhuiskrans, named after the British Ship, The Arniston, which was wrecked here in 1815 – as well as the famous Waenhuiskrans cave, an incredible tidal cave chiseled by sea and time from the limestone cliff.

This quaint fishing village, two centuries old, comes with white sand-dunes, endless beaches and character-filled fishing cottages.

Apart from the tranquillity of Arniston/Waenhuiskrans, there are numerous other experiences awaiting visitors. From March to October the Southern Right Whale can be spotted off the coast. The area abounds with bird-life, including the rare Blue Crane. A trip to the Bredasdorp Shipwreck Museum and the famous L’Agulhas lighthouse at the southernmost tip of Africa is well worth a visit. The well-known De Hoop Nature Reserve with its abundance of wildlife, as well as numerous hiking trails is only a short distance away.

CAM’s Protection Services department aims to assist and protect citizens within the Cape Agulhas Municipal area by providing services to maintain law and order by rendering traffic policing services, enforcing municipal by-laws and regulations, and providing vehicle licensing and disaster management services.

Providing clean water is another important to CAM’s remit in a Western Cape region often short of needed rainfall levels.

Water sources are mainly ground water from various boreholes in the area.  Bredasdorp has, in addition to boreholes, also the Uitvlucht spring and the Sanddrift dam for water supply. Water network includes reservoirs, pump stations and 222 km pipe network to consumers.

The main water purification plant is situated in Bredasdorp with smaller plants in all towns within the CAM area. All water complies with SANS 241 standards. Results are available on request. Water samples are tested on a regular basis. Chemical tests are done locally by plant operators at the purification plant in Bredasdorp. Water samples for bacteriological tests are sent to an independent laboratory for testing.

There is a wastewater treatment works at Bredasdorp and Struisbaai North. The quality of waste water is also monitored against SANS 242 parameters.

CAM also operates six libraries across the region.

CAM may be far from the largest municipality in South Africa, but its range of functions is broad as it aims to deliver the best services to its population and visitors.