Repeated vandalising of GO GEORGE infrastructure in some of the communities that already enjoy the benefits of the city’s public bus service, has reached a critical stage with the George Municipality at its wit’s end.
The long-awaited bus shelters are a specific target. Of the 68 shelters already installed, 52 (77%) have been vandalised. This includes 83 glass panels (sides and/or back) and 7 Perspex panels that have been broken or removed, and 33 panels that have been defaced by graffiti. The Department of Civil Engineering has a hard time keeping up with the removal of dangerous shards, while repair work is waiting for the results of several materials being tested to replace those that are constantly vandalised. This is also delaying the schedule of shelter installation, since another 44 shelter frames are waiting in the factory to be finished off with the chosen panels before they can be installed.
As part of ongoing research and testing to find a solution to the problem, damaged panels at some of the vandalised shelters are currently being replaced with perforated steel, Perspex, Plexiglass and solid steel plates to test its durability. According to the shelter designers, the original glass panels consist of three layers of glass that would definitely not be broken by a young person throwing a stone, but would take a concerted effort with heavy objects to do the kind of damage that can be seen at the vandalised shelters.
The initial strong glass panels were chosen for safety reasons to ensure visibility of passengers inside the shelter, as well as passengers’ need to see oncoming buses. These practical, and in some cases legal prescriptions might have to be altered just to keep the shelters in one piece.
George Municipal Manager, Trevor Botha, has spoken out strongly against this criminal conduct. “By vandalising and damaging these structures, the culprits deprive those members of the community who need it most. The cost of one bus shelter is R52 000, excluding preparation of the site and installation. Investigation, getting quotations and repair work on damaged shelters take time, and until this is concluded, passengers are the victims who are inconvenienced and exposed to the elements,” he said.
Botha appeals to the public to discourage, stop and report any vandalising activities. “We have to count on the community to help us here. By the time a report reaches us, the damage has been done. We would really appreciate the community’s support in kerbing these actions. GO GEORGE is the community’s bus service – let’s all take ownership, and take hands to preserve the costly infrastructure needed for efficient running of the service. The cost of continually repairing vandalised vehicles and infrastructure could eventually impact the cost of your ticket.”
The public is requested to report vandalism to GO GEORGE directly. Phone the GO GEORGE Call Centre on 0800 044 044 (manned from 05:00 till 21:30 daily), write an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave a message on the GO GEORGE Facebook page.