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Ensuring a safe Easter for all

Date: 2023-04-07 16:28:07

Ensuring a safe Easter for all

I WANT to begin this column by wishing all residents and Christians a happy and safe Easter weekend. We anticipate
a bumper Easter holiday in the City as thousands of visitors are expected to flock to eThekwini for leisure, to attend church
gatherings, and to spend time with their families. Traffic flow will be high especially along major routes including the Mariannhill Toll on the N3 and the oThongathi Toll Plaza on the N2. 

Law enforcement officers will be out in full force to ensure law and order as well as keeping visitors and residents safe during this period. The Easter period also coincides with the breaking of their fast by Muslim residents with the celebration of Eid Mubarak. We also want to take this opportunity to wish the Muslim community a happy and a blessed Eid. In line with our commitment of a better life for all, last week we tabled the City’s draft budget for the 2023/24 financial year. 

The draft budget is focused on restoring, rebuilding, and stimulating job creation in the City as economic activity recovers
from the impact of the global pandemic, the July 2021 unrest, and the floods of 2022. The preparation of the proposed
R66 billion budget, which was tabled at the sitting of Full Council, on 30 March, was a challenging balancing act. The capital budget of R8.1 billion ensures key investments in infrastructure, particularly in improving waste management,
electricity, and water supply and improving the speed and quality of core services. 

The proposed operating budget sees a growth of 16 percent from R49.8 billion in the current financial year to R57.9 billion in 2023/2024. The growth of the operating budget is due mainly to the repairs and maintenance of infrastructure,
cost of addressing service delivery backlogs, cost of bulk purchases – water and electricity – and employee related costs.
We are also encouraged by the positive outlook of the tourism sector which is showing gradual growth since it experienced several setbacks due to COVID-19 and the civil unrest. We have seen an increase in the number of people coming to the City and enjoying our many tourist attractions. Testament to this, on 3 April we were delighted to welcome one of the longest passenger ships in the world, Queen Mary 2 as it docked in the City.

As a coastal city, tourism continues to be a priority for economic growth and as a result, we are currently developing attractive tourism packages to ensure that we remain a preferred tourism destination. The arrival of Queen Mary 2 comes at a time when we are busy with the expansion project of the Port of Durban. This development is expected to be a major drawcard for cruise liners and will include five-star hotels, retail mall, apartments, and an African cultural centre. In closing, I want to encourage residents to take the time to read the 2023/24 draft budget, Integrated Development Plan, and Spatial Development Framework.

These are important documents that have a direct impact on residents as it lays out key areas the City will be focusing on in the next financial year. Take the time to comment and provide your input. We commit that all comments will be considered before the budget is finalised.