Crime and grime in the Athlone central business district is on its way out with the establishment of the Athlone Central Improvement District (ATHCID).
The Cape Town City Council approved the formation of a City Improvement District (CID) in Athlone at a meeting on Wednesday, 30 May.
The concept of a City Improvement District encourages business owners to create a clean and healthy working environment and to improve safety and security in the central business district.
The founding of the ATHCID is the culmination of a two-year process by the Steering Committee, led by Sumaya Taliep, and the city's Economic Development Department, under Runan Rossouw.
"Many business areas such as the Athlone CBD have been moderately successful," says Rossouw.
"To remain successful they must position themselves in a rapidly changing city environment and the global economy.
The CID concept allows business and industry owners to realise their full potential by creating a well- managed business environment," he adds.
Well-known entrepreneur and deputy president of the Cape Town Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Sumaya Taliep, said the ATHCID's short-term focus is branding, marketing and investment promotion for the area.
"The informal trading sector will be further developed to become well-managed and to restore good governance that will allow for the further creation of jobs. ATHCID will focus on cleaning up the image of the area, which has been tarnished with crime and grime, and will look into the rehabilitation of the vagrants in the area," Taliep says.
There will be three tiers to this process - the formation of the CID, the formalising and regulating of the formal businesses with informal trading, and the implementation of CCTV in the city centre.
"The implementation of CCTV will run parallel with 2010. We want to implement a best practice system that will be integrated with the local police stations and the Metro Police.
"The CCTV cameras will be placed on top of high poles with special lighting in the CBD," she explains.
"Safe and convenient shopping could also bring tourism into Athlone, thus creating a Cape Flats tourist hub in Athlone," Taliep told People's Post.
Taliep, who is also an emerging property developer, said she envisaged a mixed living and retail environment in the area. "There will be property opportunities for an income group that has not been catered for."
Athlone-based businesses have welcomed the initiative. David Hoth from Down Town Liquor says he has been an avid supporter and participant of the establishment of the ATHCID from the idea's inception.
Shaheed Shaik, a businessman and the principal of Stone Fountain College, says he wants to ensure the safety of his students. "There are thugs mugging pensioners on the street and grabbing their handbags. There are also a lot of people urinating in the streets. Athlone will be getting 18 security officers to the area, and this will help stop the problem," he elaborates.
"I am very excited about the ATHCID. Land-owners have lost interest in their buildings and a lot of big tenants have left the area. This will enable council to impose a levy on property owners and ensure the upgrading of buildings," Shaik adds.
For more information on ATHCID, phone Sumaya Taliep on (021) 461-0158.