The success of Athlone lies in unity and commitment to a common vision to take Athlone into a bright, viable and revitalised business precinct.
This was the sentiment expressed by Sumaya Taliep, the out-going chairperson of the Athlone Chamber of Commerce (COC), at the Chamber's AGM last week.
Representatives of Athbiz - a group of Athlone business owners - informal traders, and various other business people in the area attended the meeting.
Taliep said in her chairperson's report that she believes there are exciting times ahead for the Athlone central business district.
"A public-private partnership approach must be promoted where business and government commit to working together to advance the future economic viability and sustainability of the CBD," she said.
Shaheed Shaik, chairperson of Athbiz, said, "If we want to change the face of Athlone, we'll need to think outside the box".
Provincial Police Commissioner Mzwandile Petros was the guest speaker at the event and provided feedback to the Chamber after his last meeting with them three months ago.
"We need to mobilise resources beyond those of policing. A few weeks ago I spoke about the decrease in crime in the Western Cape and said that if the police and community can work as a team, we might be able to reach further milestones together," Petros said.
One of the main issues raised at the meeting three months ago was that of complaints against foreign nationals who deal in drugs in the area. "As was the case in Sea Point a while ago, it is the people from this community who rent their places to the Nigerians. There are instances in which one premises is rented to 30 or more people. It is our own people [South Africans], who charge exorbitant prices for their places," he said.
It was noted that this high cost of living forces foreign nationals to generate more money, leading them into crime. Petros also announced that his earlier decision to place senior officials temporarily at station level would now become a permanent one.
"This does not necessarily mean that Director Anand Pillay will stay at Athlone Police permanently, but that in general senior officers will now remain at station level," he said. "We can't say that the police are doing well, but we can say that the Western Cape community is beginning to stand up against crime," he said.