It took almost three years for the committee of the newly formed Maitland City Improvement District (MAITCID) initiative to get all the necessary approvals, but within six weeks of being established it has already brought about a significant improvement in conditions in Maitland and certain adjacent areas, says the CID chairperson, Helen Brown.
The new CID will cover the area stretching from Beach Road to Third Avenue and will focus on a long section of Voortrekker Road, with special attention paid to certain streets.
Brown says this CID initiative had become essential because, although there has been an improvement in conditions over the last year, the area is in danger of losing its appeal and value as a result of having too many vagrants, beggars, petty thieves and drug dealers – some of whom sleep, urinate and defecate on the streets or in vacant lots and harass visitors.
Particularly annoying, says Brown, have been two growing antisocial practices. The first is to pack too many people into available residential rental accommodation – often at high prices. The second has been to vandalise any building with valuable copper or other re-saleable metals in it.
“This area is ‘worked’ by dealers in stolen goods operating with cars and horse drawn carts. It is a known fact that they do good business here. Also of great concern is that drug teams are targeting the school children who, once hooked, can resort to a life of petty crime to pay for their addictions. Safety and security are our prime concerns.”
Thomas Blatherwick, a CID committee member whose company, Zone Watch, is a security service provider here, says the police have struggled to contain the problem as they are short staffed, cannot be everywhere and often have more serious issues to deal with.
Another committee member, Dino Gomes, who has run a power tool retail shop in the area for 12 years, says the good news is that Maitland has not yet seen any major exodus of business as a result of its problems and very few buildings are untenanted.
“The precinct is still able to attract customers, but rentals have been held down by the situation and too many buildings and public areas now look neglected. Property values, which should flourish in so well patronised a trading area, are not as buoyant as they might be.
“The CID programme will tackle all the issues mentioned here. We want to add to the existing services, and want to have a say in managing the area.”
Edite Rodrigues, the CID manager, says the huge improvement seen in the first month augers well for the future.
“We can be grateful that we have acted timeously. Road maintenance, drainage improvement, removal of graffiti and general upgrading or repairing of derelict buildings will be key projects in Maitland’s new upgrade effort.”
The new CID has kicked off with six security staff patrolling on foot as well as two patrol vehicles during the day and one patrol vehicle at night. They are linked by radio to their Maitland control room which, in turn, is linked to the police.
Brown says already 370 property owners are contributing to the CID’s costs through additional rates.
“One of the aims of the committee,” says Rodrigues, “will be to create civic awareness and pride and a greater aversion to littering, dumping, vagrancy, grime, dirt and pollution. We believe that, as the CID gains momentum, the whole area will gain a new look.”
All the committee members testified that Maitland’s convenient location and its proximity to the Cape Town CBD and to the freeways make it an ideal business and light industrial venue.
“We are confident that in the foreseeable future the great value of this location will again be widely recognised. This is, after all, one of the prime commercial areas in Cape Town,” says Rodrigues.