Tidy Towns community initiative restores functionality to KZN’s long neglected south coast

The Tidy Towns truck can be seen parked on the road as volunteers repair a pothole. Image: Scott Kvalsig /Tidy Towns.

The Tidy Towns truck can be seen parked on the road as volunteers repair a pothole. Image: Scott Kvalsig /Tidy Towns.

Published Jul 12, 2022


Durban - Throughout South Africa, reports of poor service delivery, filthy streets and a lack of functionality have been widespread, with many pointing fingers at the government.

But in the cosy south coast of KwaZulu-Natal, community members, businesses, the local government and even residents from abroad have banded together to restore functionality.

Tidy Towns - Shelly to Margate, the brainchild of the concerned community, has been making immense progress in cleaning up the beaches and streets of the Ray Nkonyeni Municipality.

According to one of the project’s founders, Reg Horne, tourism is one of the staple sources of income to the south coast region, meaning a clean atmosphere is imperative for good business.

Horne told IOL on Monday that the initiative started out to be a simple community project but has since gained huge traction, catching the eyes of local business owners and even residents abroad.

One of the administrators on the Tidy Towns social media page, Stephen Herbst, said the project was started because people felt the area needed to be cleaned.

It is also believed that a woman from the United Kingdom, who saw the work Tidy Towns has been doing, donates pounds towards the initiative on a frequent basis.

Tidy Towns also has branded vehicles which they use to pick up debris, grass and even transport equipment to and from sites. The vehicles were loaned out to them by a local farmer, Scott Kvalsig.

Prior to the team repairing or cleaning up an area, they request permission from officials at the Ray Nkonyeni Municipality.

“It's nothing political. It is a community thing. That's why it's so nice and why people are interested in getting involved. It is not a name that comes from South Africa. It is from Ireland. But the great part about it is that anyone can do it in their area.

“Really, we just did this to help our community,” Horne said.

“But obviously there are protocols, we can’t just go ahead and start cleaning. We just try to pick up where the municipality lacks in resources. Like if there's dirt lying on the road on days when there’s no pick up, we would go in and collect that dirt. There is a very good relationship between us and the municipality,” Horne added.

Spokesperson for the Ray Nkonyeni Municipality, Simon April, said the initiative was a really helpful one that could be replicated throughout the country.

April said the partnership between the two entities rely on communication. He said the municipality provides whatever the Tidy Towns team needs after they have identified an area that needs repairs or maintenance.

“Government is not able to fast track service delivery to the communities so such initiatives do assist us. I think maybe other municipalities can learn a lot.

“The more public facilities are attended to, the more successful the tourism sector will become so such initiatives are always welcome,” April said.