Western Cape residents waited in anticipation to hear Premier Alan Winde deliver his State of the Province (SOPA) address on Wednesday, February 17. The Premier touched on a number of important topics including tourism, the COVID-19 vaccination rollout and the province’s status in being the first in the country to “beat” load shedding.
“At the end of last year, we launched our Municipal Energy Resilience Project, which will assist municipalities in taking the necessary steps to generate, procure and sell their own power,” Winde said. “We have also committed R20-million per year over a two-year period to roll out this project.”
According to the Premier, the first phase will involve the Department of Economic Development and Tourism, in partnership with the Department of Local Government and the Provincial Treasury, to undertake an assessment of all municipalities and determine whether they are ready for new energy opportunities.
Winde also touched on the province’s plans to create a single transport authority for Cape Town.
“I announced last year that we will start an initial engagement with our partners and other stakeholders around the creation of a single transport authority for the greater Cape Town region, something which all modern cities have,” he said. “Sadly though, this is not a quick fix. It will take time, co-ordination and, of course, financing over the longer term.”
According to the Premier, the Cape also has a difficult year in store in terms of tourism. “The first critical step will be ensuring that our air network recovers after a number of routes were suspended or cancelled last year,” he said. “The Air Access team, housed at Wesgro, continues to engage with the aviation industry and there are some promising signs emerging.
“Even in the current global climate, we have been able to secure a direct route from Cape Town to Atlanta on Delta Airlines, which plans to commence this year. We have also secured TAP Portugal (the Portuguese national flag carrier), with a direct flight to Lisbon, starting November 2021,” Winde added.
The province also plans to introduce new regulations around the sale of alcohol to curb the rampant abuse of the substance.
“That is why we are instead pursuing more targeted interventions by amending the Western Cape Liquor Act. These amendments will directly and indirectly reduce alcohol harms, as well improve the efficiency of the Western Cape Liquor Authority,” Winde said. “In addressing this major problem in our communities, I am also committed to working with the industry and consumers to find new and innovative solutions to reduce alcohol-related harms in the Western Cape.”
In October 2020, Winde said that the province was considering making alcohol more expensive here as a deterrent.
“As part of these amendments, I can announce that we have now put ‘per-unit-of-alcohol’ pricing firmly on the table for consideration,” he said at the time. “This will make it more expensive to buy alcoholic beverages with higher alcohol percentages; an approach which evidence suggests can be effective in preventing binge drinking.”