PLETTENBERG BAY NEWS - Plettenberg Bay was once again embroiled in protest action this week when Qolweni residents blocked the N2 in the town.
Not only were municipal offices closed and councillors escorted out of affected areas as a safety precaution, it also sparked an emergency community meeting which resulted in residents deciding to take legal action against the police for "failing to protect the town" against the litany of protests that bring the town to a near standstill most of the time.
This week's protest started on Tuesday night when disgruntled residents started pelting passing vehicles with stones and blocked the national road at Rastas, opposite Weldon Kaya.
The situation escalated during the course of Wednesday morning and Bitou Municipality closed its administrative offices as a safety precaution. Two councillors and three officials were also escorted by public order police from Pinetrees, Bossiesgif and New Horizons.
Municipal spokesperson Manfred van Rooyen said traffic was diverted via Airport/Robberg Road from the Knysna direction, and through Plettenberg Bay town from the Port Elizabeth direction.
On Wednesday morning, authorities also reported protest action at Green Valley in Wittedrift.
While Van Rooyen said no demands had been received at the time of going to print, Qolweni residents recently marched through the town's streets to voice their concerns. Some of the issues raised include the slow pace of a Qolweni housing project as well as the high unemployment rate experienced by the area's residents.
They complained that there are housing beneficiaries who rent out their government homes and remain living in informal structures.
Another issue relates to people who allegedly live in formal homes while renting out their informal structures.
Residents also bemoaned the lack of sports development in the area as well as tenders allegedly being awarded to the same companies.
Van Rooyen said police led attempts on Wednesday morning to get an undertaking from the protest leaders to meet with Bitou's political office bearers in order to resolve their issues.
This wave of action has come in the wake of similar protest action in the past year, most times bringing the town to a near standstill.
Meanwhile, fed-up residents gathered at the Plett Dutch Reformed Church on Wednesday morning to discuss the issues caused by the protests.
Some of the comments included the negative impact of the road closures on tourism – the town's biggest economic driver – and business.
A decision was made to start a class action against the police for "failing to protect" the town against the protests.
At the time of going to print authorities reported that KwaNokuthula and New Horizons residents had joined the action, with no signs of abating.
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