Tag: Cape Town

Black Friday march against Amazon in Cape Town

By Hanno Labuschagne for MyBroadband

An action group will be holding a march on Black Friday, 26 November 2021, to voice its opposition to the construction of Amazon’s new South African headquarters.

The Liesbeek Action Campaign, which claims to represent the San and Khoi, Goringhaicona, Observatory Civic Association, and indigenous peoples of South Africa, plans to hand over a petition with 57,600 signatures to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos at the site of the development in River Club, Cape Town.

According to current plans, Amazon will be the anchor tenant at the R4.5-billion project, developed on a site along the Liesbeek River by the Liesbeek Leisure Properties Trust.

It will consist of a mixed-use space divided into commercial and housing uses across two precincts.

The commercial area will include a hotel, retail space, restaurants, a school, and conference and event facilities.

The development is expected to boost the Cape Town economy and create more than 5,000 direct jobs and 19,000 indirect and induced jobs.

However, the Liesbeek Action Campaign wants the project to be dropped on “environmental and heritage grounds”.

It states that the River Club site was a floodplain location and an area of historical significance where earlier battles between South Africa’s indigenous people Portuguese settlers took place over 500 years ago.

The march on Friday forms part of a broader global movement dubbed “Make Amazon Pay“, which is calling for a global strike against the ecommerce giant’s wage policies, tax practices, and environmental impact.

“More than 70 trade unions, civil society organisations, environmentalists and tax watchdogs across 26 countries will take action on its infamous Black Friday sale to demand the shopping giant provide better treatment to its employees and address the concerns of communities impacted by this corporate behemoth,” said the group.

It is calling on supporters to join it at the planned development site to “reclaim the river as a protected life-giving entity that can’t be buried to make way for 150,000 square metres of concrete”.

“The Liesbeek Action Campaign is joining Make Amazon Pay to remind the world that the struggle against the River Club development is a global struggle because Amazon doesn’t appear to care what impact it has on workers, communities and the environment in whatever country it operates.”

“We see the same indifference here in Observatory as it shows when it exploits its workers and prevents their unionisation, and dodges taxes,” it added.

According to the group, the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) is busy grading the site as a national heritage resource. At the same time, the developers “ploughed ahead with indifference, constructing Amazon’s behemoth buildings that will forever destroy the intangible heritage of a key heritage site”.

Former Cape Town mayor Dan Plato previously warned that blocking the headquarters could cost the city and South Africa dearly.

Plato said not only would thousands of jobs be in jeopardy, but money expected to flow into the city, provincial, and national government’s coffers would be lost.

The objections raised by the Liesbeek Action Campaign have also been dismissed by the First Nations Collective, led by Chief Zenzile Khoisan.

The First Nations Collective includes leaders and structures who form part of the “Khoi and San” resurgence.

Khoisan explained that there was an agreement with the Liesbeek Lesure Properties Trust that would ensure the heritage, history, and culture of the First Nations group were preserved on-site.

The development will include an indigenous garden, heritage eco-trail, garden amphitheatre, and other symbols central to the First Nations narrative.

“This is the first developer in South Africa’s history to honour indigenous groups,” stated Khoisan.

“It’s a massive triumph because the entire 6km of this site is going to be landmarked with the searing narrative that represents our dispossession, our genocide,” he said.

“All of the crimes that have been committed are going to be signposted across this entire development.”

The developers have also promised to rehabilitate the River Club’s degraded lands and surrounding ecosystem, which ecological assessments regard as a “biodiversity bomb” due to the disintegrated river system and illegal dumping in recent years.

 

Amazon to build new headquarters in Cape Town

By Dan Meyer for The South African

The City of Cape Town has given the go-ahead for the construction of a R4-billion mixed-use development to be occupied primarily by global retail giant Amazon, with some 19 000 jobs promised to those responsible for carrying out the project.

Executive mayor Dan Plato said in a statement on Monday 19 April that the 15-hectare parcel of land in the River Club has been approved for development by the Liesbeek Leisure Properties Trust, with development promising to provide “a significant boost to the Cape Town economy as the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown [continues]”.

Plato said that the 150 000 square metre mixed-use space will be divided into commercial and housing uses across two precincts, and said that heritage considerations have been accounted for.

“The city has carefully and thoroughly considered all of the submissions and concerns during the appeal process. We are acutely aware of the need to balance investment and job creation, along with heritage and planning considerations,” he said.

“It is clear that this development offers many economic, social and environmental benefits for the area. We are committed to driving investment to revitalise the economy, which is slowly recovering following the impact of COVID-19,” said Plato.

The proposed development will contain the following:

  • 59 600 SQM office space;
  • 20 700 SQM retail space;
  • 8 200 SQM hotel;
  • 4,100 SQM gym;
  • Restaurants, conferencing, school and events space

The developers of the project have pledged to assign 20% of the residential floor space to affordable housing opportunities. A total of 31 900 SQM of the development is intended for residential purposes.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomed the announcement, saying that the potential job creation is vital.

“The DA welcomes the announcement that Amazon will establish its South African headquarters in the City of Cape Town. This project has the potential to create up 19 000 jobs – 5 239 during the construction phase alone – and will inject an estimated R4 billion into the local economy,” they said.

The DA said that the announcement highlights the City of Cape Town’s success in “setting itself at the forefront of investment and economic development in the country, while keeping local concerns front of mind”.

“The extended COVID-19 lockdown has caused devastation on the South African economy, with Cape Town not escaping this economic fall-out. This development that will serve to revitalise the local economy and increase the trust already placed in the competence of the Western Cape government, once again proving that the DA does it better.”

 

Cape Town’s “digital nomad” visa plan

Source: MyBroadband

The Western Cape provincial government wants the national government to introduce a “remote working visa” aimed at international digital nomads, but they are struggling to convince the Department of Home Affairs.

Cape Town is perfectly positioned to take advantage of people who live in and work remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was voted the best city in the world for many years running in the Telegraph Travel Awards which illustrates its appeal to international travellers.

With good Internet infrastructure, quality restaurants, and an idyllic setting, Cape Town is an attractive location for digital nomads.

It wants to follow in the footsteps of Dubai which launched a remote-work programme last year.

This programme allows international professionals to live in the Emirates while continuing to serve their employers in their home country.

The remote-work visa gives applicants access to all services in Dubai, including telecoms and schooling.

The Western Cape provincial government wants to do the same for Cape Town through a South African remote-work visa.

The city’s mayoral committee member for Economic Opportunities and Asset Management, James Vos, said the pandemic created a great opportunity to take work on a holiday.

“Cape Town has everything it takes to be the best remote working location in the world. We just need to make it easier for people to travel to South Africa,” said Vos.
To make it even more attractive to travellers, Western Cape tourism company Wesgro has partnered with Airbnb to promote the province as an ideal location for digital nomads.

The partnership includes offering people up to 50% off stays longer than 28 days through Airbnb.

“Digital nomads will now be able to take advantage of the Western Cape’s tech- and entrepreneur-friendly economy at an affordable price,” said the DA’s provincial spokesperson for Finance, Economic Development, and Tourism, Deidré Baartman.

There is, however, a snag – the national government.

The Western Cape government has tried to engage with President Cyril Ramaphosa and Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, but their request has not been successful.

Cape Town is, however, not giving up. The Cape Town city council continues to put pressure on the national government to make this happen.

It also wants the application process for the remote working visa to move online.

Vos told Rapport it is high time that South Africa implements its electronic visa (e-visa) system to accommodate international travellers.

South Africa has already piloted the new e-visa system, but the pandemic has delayed the implementation of this system.

 

Massive car licence rush expected to hit SA

Source: capetown.gov

The City of Cape Town managed to license and register the more than 1,3-million registered vehicles in Cape Town in only six months, between June 2020 and December 2020.

This is a doubling of the number of vehicle transactions normally done per month, and that would typically be done over a year. This exceptional transaction rate was a response to the backlogs created by COVID-19, which is a country-wide phenomenon. Primarily 228 staff members have managed this feat amid the most trying of circumstances. The City has not received additional equipment from the National Government to enable it to work faster through the National Traffic Information Services (Natis). The City, as an agent of the National Government, receives allocated Natis terminals and the vehicle-related transactions can only be done on these terminals and programmes. COVID-19 will continue to impact licensing operations across the country.

The City is looking at all options within its power to assist motorists during this extraordinary time. Discussions on ways to increase Natis terminals and infrastructure continue with the Western Cape Government and the National authorities.

‘Some options that we have already started implementing is the opening of another customer service office in a shopping mall in Lansdowne, in addition to the Promenade Mall and Table Bay Mall offices. The City is also looking to expand capacity in its Kraaifontein office. This would positively impact operations and lead to more transactions at that office.

‘The City has requested the lead licensing authority, the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), to provide additional Natis terminal and printer capacity so that City staff can deal with the increased volumes of online renewal transactions. This will speed up the time taken to process online transactions and will encourage members of the public to follow the online route, which is safer and more convenient.

‘Importantly, COVID-19 will continue to have a material impact on our operations. We will continue to have unplanned and sudden office openings and closures to ensure the safety of our staff and customers. The COVID-19 regulations will continue to affect staff complements at times and we will continue to experience the intermittent national system problems that we have seen over the past year. These problems affect the City’s service delivery, but are unfortunately not within our control.

‘The dedicated City staff will continue to go above and beyond the call of duty to assist customers. We ask motorists to please be proactive: check the expiry date on their licence discs, and start the renewal process at least a month or two in advance of their due date or within the grace period. This will make a huge difference to all and enable motorists to successfully apply for their licences online via e-Services.

‘We thank our customers for their support and understanding in what continues to be a trying time for all,’ said the City’s Executive Deputy Mayor, Alderman Ian Neilson.

July/August 2021 peak
The City expects a July/August 2021 peak in renewals, as many licences will expire on 31 August 2021, with a due date of 22 September 2021. This is due to the COVID-19 lockdown extension given to motorists whose motor vehicle licences expired in March, April and May 2020.

Tips

  • Customers are reminded that fines are nationally determined and the City may not unilaterally write off fines.
  • Please plan for a turnaround time of approximately four weeks currently from application to receipt of the licence when applying online via e-Services. This is due to high volumes, but the City hopes that the plans that are under way will help to reduce the turnaround time in the future.
  • Please plan ahead.
  • The length of queues at motor licensing offices have been reducing in general. However, it may still seem long due to the social distancing and other COVID-19 measures that are in place.
  • If customers must visit a customer office in person, please remember that there is COVID-19 screening at the entrances and a limited number of customers are allowed in at a time due to COVID-19 regulations. Social distancing is required and must be adhered to and masks are compulsory.
  • Motorists only need their ID for motor vehicle licensing and registration renewals.
  • Motorists are reminded that they are not allowed to drive an unlicenced vehicle or a vehicle where a valid licence disc is not displayed.
  • Motorists are further reminded to update their cell phone numbers and email addresses when applying and paying for their licences online and at licensing offices as they will be receiving renewal reminders via their cell phones or email addresses.

Langa teens run R9 delivery service

By Kirsten Jacobs for Cape Town Etc

Amid the nationwide lockdown, a group of entrepreneurial teenage boys from Langa are doing good for their community by offering a R9 delivery service for essential items and takeaways.

The service, called Cloudy Deliveries, is operated by nine boys from the Langa area who ride their bikes to bring deliveries to their community. Deliveries cost a flat fee of R9.

The drivers range from 16-19 years old. The youngest team member, 12-year-old Olwethu, looks after the bicycles to make sure they are working properly and ready for the road each day.

“Our vision for Cloudy Deliveries is that we want it to be a reliable alternative to the way we do shopping or the way the exchange of money and goods take place between vendors and customers in black communities. While also having an impact in the lives of young boys in our townships,” they explain on their Facebook page.

“We would like to invite you to be part of a vision that seeks to move the community forward and a vision that wants to improve young lives by requesting a delivery and making your R9 count.”

While R9 might not seem like much, every bit helps.

“Your R9 does count and it does make a difference. It brings us closer to our vision which is to impact the lives of young boys and of providing you with a reliable alternative to the way you buy goods,” they say.

Deliveries can happen through a number of means. Customers may contact the boys on the numbers listed below, place an order at a specific shop and can ask the owner to request the delivery or simply stop the boys on the street and ask for a delivery to be made.

By Aimee Pace for CapeTown ETC

Local company CapeBio is at the front line in the fight against coronavirus, leading the way with their new qPCR kits that are able to produce results in more than half the time of others.

Testing is critical in the fight against the spread of coronavirus. Led by Allan Gray Fellows Daniel Ndima and Dineo Lioma, CapeBio has answered the challenge with a kit providing results in just 65 minutes compared to other tests which take roughly three hours to produce results.

Faster testing times means that scientists and doctors will be able to conduct tests and assist patients more easily.

This is why the qPCR kits developed by CapeBio are hailed as a massive breakthrough, with critical implications for the country’s ability to weather the current crisis.

Daniel Ndima, CEO of CapeBio says, “The ability to obtain rapid test results allows us to gain a clearer picture of viral infections, so that we are able to introduce interventions with greater effectiveness.” This will remain important even after lockdown, as South Africa has a population of over 55-million people who will need to be monitored on an ongoing basis.

According to Ndima, CapeBio responded with their latest innovation after massive disruptions were experienced throughout South Africa as a result of the virus.

“One of our major challenges is our reliance on imported tests,” he explains. “Most countries are currently experiencing issues with supply and demand, which their respective governments are controlling with newly introduced trade regulations. This has caused delays in the delivery of imported testing kits and protective gears, and may impact on the delivery of vaccines once they have passed clinical trials.”

CapeBio has long had a reputation in their field for being reliable, innovative and resourceful. Their latest tests will assist in more accurately identifying the virus in a shorter time span.

“Our kits help pathologists isolate and identify a virus’s DNA or genetic material from an infected person. This makes it possible to detect the virus accurately in a laboratory.”

Validation by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority is still needed before they can be introduced to the broader user base, including private use and public labs.

“The tests still had to be reformulated, validated and certified by this body for diagnostics of other diseases caused by deadly pathogens such as HIV, TB, malaria and genetic related diseases,” Ndima informs. “We were looking into formulating our current products for these purposes, amongst others.”

As a locally manufactured product, the qPCR could mitigate this reliance on overseas imports, ensuring that testing reagents could be accessed quickly and without a wait. They are also more affordable than international products.

Cape Town named Africa’s leading digital city

By Lorine Towett for Wee Tracker

It is no doubt that Cape Town has continued to cement itself as Africa’s tech hub. The city boasts being home to a majority of South African startup firms with new companies opening shops almost on a monthly basis.

The South African city has been named Africa’s leading digital city and contributes the most to the Western Cape’s GDP.

The 2018 State of Cape Town Central City Report compiled by the Central City Improvement District (CCID), has highlighted the hard work of the City and its partners.

The report also shows that 50 percent of the country’s emerging tech companies are based in the Western Cape, a majority of which are in Cape Town. Owed to the fact that most tech firms are based in the South African capital, the city employs more people in the sector than anywhere else on the African continent.

Cape Town has earned approximately ZAR 5 Bn in foreign direct investment from the many international firms that have set shops within the city. The city’s economic activities contribute nearly three-quarters of the Western Cape’s GDP.

“The city and the CBD has geared itself to accommodate an emerging digitally savvy population that requires a business environment that offers good broadband connectivity, co-working spaces, accessibility and quality of lifestyle. The City Centre has all of these, and as a recognised digital city, the Cape Town CBD is well placed to support this vibrant new way of working,’ said CCID chairperson, Rob Kane.

In a bid to boost innovations in the thriving tech hub, the city has invested ZAR 1 Bn which will go into developing a telecommunication network which will provide data connection to various buildings and locations.

The broadband project is expected to be completed by 2020 and so far, 300 City-owned buildings have been connected.

Day Zero for Cape Town has been pushed back by four days to April 16, 2018, DA leader Mmusi Maimane announced in a statement on Tuesday.

“This is crucial progress, and I offer my thanks and congratulations to all residents who have joined in this campaign to Defeat Day Zero with such commitment. Their efforts have shown fruit. We have started to push back Day Zero, and we can defeat it altogether if we keep going.”

According to the latest data, dam levels for Cape Town are 26.3% as at January 29, 2018, from 26.6% at January 26, 2018.

The average daily water production of all water sources is at 580 ml/d compared to the target of 450ml/d.

Check out News24’s special report on the water crisis

“This is great progress, but to truly Defeat Day Zero, we need to aim to cut consumption to 450 million litres a day,” said Maimane.

If Day Zero does arrives taps will be cut off, except in the CBD and commercial and industrial zones.

“Pushing back Day Zero by 4 days may not seem like a lot. But actually it is a significant victory. It shows that residents are coming together and cutting water consumption,” said Maimane.

The DA leader also announced that the City secured an additional 67 million litres a day for a period of approximately 60 days, commencing in early February.

This is part of the 120 million litre augmentation which we announced last week.

“Last week we expected this additional capacity to only come online by May, but now more than half will be available from early February. This speeding-up of water augmentation will help us greatly to Defeat Day Zero.”

Meanwhile, retailers are cashing in as panic-stricken Capetonians are buying bottled water in bulk.

Have a look at this infographic prepared by Digest to help people decide what they need potable water for and to manage it within their budget.

Purchasing water at R23 (currently the higher end of what Capetonians are forking out in the city) could see residents up spending about R20 000 on water for the next three months, according to Digest estimates.

What will happen when Day Zero arrives?

  • One week before the six dams providing water to the Western Cape Water Supply System (WCWSS) are collectively expected to drop to 13.5%, the City will announce the date on which almost all the taps in Cape Town’s residential suburbs will be cut off.
  • Surrounding towns which are heavily reliant on these dams (such as Drakenstein, parts of Stellenbosch and towns on the West Coast) will likely also be turned off.
  • Municipal water may only be available at 200 Points of Distribution (PoDs) across the City.
  • The maximum allocation will be 25 litres per person per day, distributed on the assumption that an average family comprises four persons.
  • If every family sends one person to fetch their water allocation, about 5,000 people will congregate at each PoD every day.
  • Discussions are underway with SAB and the South African Bureau of Standards to sell water for R1 a quart (similar to a 750ml beer bottle)
  • The City’s Water and Sanitation Department will try to limi the impact on sanitation services to limit the risk of disease.
  • SAPS and the National Defence Force are being consulted to help maintain law and order with Law Enforcement at collection point.

Source: Cape Argus, CBN and News24 

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