Service Delivery Protests: What is Kruger Lowveld doing?
Over the past few weeks the Lowveld has experienced disruptive service delivery protests which have had a significant negative effect on tourism within the region.
As a Regional Tourism Organisation, Kruger Lowveld Tourism doesn’t have the authority or power to direct law enforcement agencies to deal with the illegal road closures and general lawlessness, nor can it solve the legitimate grievances of the protesting communities. We have, however, been working in the background in an attempt to ensure that roads are cleared as quickly as possible and that traffic can pass through safely.
Through our Kruger Lowveld WhatsApp network (with over 500 members), we receive reports of where protests are happening in real time and warn as many people as possible, of problems in the region. Following intense engagement with Provincial authorities and the SAPS we have finally been given access to the people responsible for tourism safety in the Province and send our messages directly to them, they are then able to direct the required resources to the problem area immediately.
As the reasons behind the protests are generally due to poor service delivery, Kruger Lowveld has been engaging with politicians and officials in the hope that they would be able to quickly respond to communities’ grievances and give undertakings that these will be attended to.
Through SATSA, we, together with other affected stakeholders, are opening a line of communication with the Minister of Tourism, making him aware of the damage these protests are doing to the tourism industry in the region and hoping that he would be able to get the assistance of his cabinet colleagues to attend to matters behind the protests which may fall under their portfolios.
In the build-up to the national elections on 8th May, political opportunism is likely to further stoke public unrest and protests. All we can do as Kruger Lowveld is hope that the processes we are putting into place will at least keep the roads open and our tourists safe.
Should you wish to join the Kruger Lowveld WhatsApp network please send a request to Tom Vorster on 0848570348 giving your name and surname.
Published in the Lowvelder of 15 March 2019: