Among the new contestants at the upcoming local government elections is James Hermanstein, who is running as an independent candidate on behalf of the South Liliendaal Progressive Development Group in Constituency 5 (Sophia/Liliendaal North & South/Pattensen/Turkeyen North & South/ Turkeyen Central & Sophia/Pattensen Central).
The group was officially registered as a Non-Government Organisation last April and Hermanstein said it has already done works in its community without the help of their current city council representative, Deputy Mayor Akeem Peter.
The independent group, which was formed late 2017, presently consists of approximately 22 members, who Hermanstein said are focused on developing the community.
Hermanstein said they came together after persons in the community noticed that nothing was being done for them by the persons that were chosen to represent them.
According to him, the group came together, sought donations from various agencies and got a walkway bridge in the community fixed without the help of their representative. Hermanstein stated that prior to the bridge being repaired, there was a makeshift walkway that people would use and sometimes they would fall into the canal. The bridge was completed in July.
The group also spearheaded a project to desilt the main canal in the community in January and February this year. The group again came together and went to the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) for help in getting the project started. It was, however, told that the canal could not be desilted because of the squatters that were on the dam.
Hermanstein explained that the CH&PA had tried to get the squatters off of the dam to get the canal desilted but it was stopped as the squatters along with the council representative protested the move.
Given the protest, he said they started to clear the canal manually but later got an excavator to do it. “Even though the dam, which is occupied by squatters, is meant for the machines to go in and clean the canal we still got it to come in, have one of the tracks on the road and the other on the parapet, but the road was not broken or damaged. Right now the residents are experiencing less flooding in the area because of that desilting,” he added.
Hermanstein opined, “These NGOs are more effective in getting things done than government organisations.” He further stated that persons in the community must come together and get things done as depending on the council or government does not always work out for the community.
Hermanstein will be contesting under the first-past-the-post system.