On Tuesday, 16 August 2022, the Premier Alan Winde and a delegation of Western Cape Ministers helped open Mossel Bay’s new Joint Operation Centre (JOC).
In a speak at the official opening ceremony, Winde explained that in order to tackle disasters and crime, they constantly need to be ready and prepared for anything.
The Premier expressed his excitement at the opening of the facility: “With this JOC, its impressive equipment, staffed with brave, dedicated firefighters, medical professionals, police officers, IT experts and sea rescue personnel, lives will be saved and the safety of residents improved.”
With humble beginnings, it started out as 3 containers. However, over the past few years, it has been transformed into a state-of-the-art facility on 800 square metres, on 3 levels from where safety and emergency services can be centralised and deployed.
The 3 levels consist of:
- Incident analysis, evaluation and control of various stakeholders
- A management and planning level
- An operational room
According to the Premier, it was the brainchild of five neighbourhood watch organisations (NHWs) who saw the need for a central location from where emergency operations could be carried out from. “This JOC is perfect proof of the importance of partnerships,” added Premier Winde.
In 2017, when the NHWs came across a neglected building at the Mossel Bay Golf Estate, owned by the local municipality. From there a budget was drawn up, and planning for refurbishing the building started. By late February 2022 the vision of a professionally-run, fully equipped JOC was realised.
Among the JOC’s features are:
- The Southern Cape South African Police Service radio server is housed at the Centre
- Mossel Bay currently has a network of 200 CCTV cameras linked to the JOC
- A helipad for two helicopters run on fuel donated by local communities
- R15 million was spent on making the JOC deaf, blind and wheelchair-friendly for staff with disabilities (specifically intended to employ people with disabilities at the Centre).
One of the Premier’s key priorities – which he shared with Mossel Bay Mayor Dirk Kotze – was safety; and the JOC relieving the need for a professional, efficient disaster management response to keep th communities safe. “It will help save lives,” Premier Winde emphasised.
According to Mayor Kotze, the Joint Operation Centre affirms their commitment to boost safety in Mossel Bay. Furthermore, the community of Mossel Bay believe that they should take ownership of their safety.
“As local governments we help facilitate the necessary partnerships to support communities taking ownership of their safety. The Joint Operation Centre consolidates these networks of support for community safety,” said Kotze.
Kotze acknowledged the Premier, Alan Winde and the Provincial Government for their support by saying: “We see great value in all our partners. We believe that partners collaborating with the JOC will act as a force multiplier to ensure delivery of community safety and security.”
“Clear communication, comprehensive training and high-tech technology are all critical components of effective disaster response. Add to this, sound infrastructure, like this Centre, and this region now has more potent disaster management and crime-fighting and prevention capabilities,” expressed Winde.
In addition, the facility meets all the needs required to efficiently respond to any kind of eventuality and it will better coordinate the various strands of disaster risk management. From Disaster Management, at both provincial and municipal levels, and the South African Police Service to Provincial and Municipal Traffic, the Fire Department and the National Sea Rescue Institute.
While touring the building, Infrastructure Minister, Tertius Simmers stated: “This initiative is a prime example of the excellence that can be achieved through collaboration of our community-based services.
Western Cape Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning Minister Anton Bredell said: “The Western Cape’s disaster management response plan is based on the premise that local authorities report and respond to events, and support is then quickly brought in from other centres. The new JOC will enhance and support this provincial approach to any future disaster event.”
“This Centre epitomises integration and cooperation between the various law enforcement agencies. Having all these entities under one roof is what we need across the Western Cape,” remarked Provincial Police Oversight and Community Safety Minister Reagen Allen. He said Mossel Bay and Garden Route residents can be proud of this centre.
These initiatives show what can be achieved when all entities work together to combat crime.
Provincial Agriculture Minister, Ivan Meyer added: “Rural safety is one of the Ministerial priorities for Agriculture and the Western Cape. The JOC actions this priority at a local level as it will serve rural communities in the region. It brings together like-minded role players eager to collaborate with the sole purpose of making communities safer.”
Picture: Mossed Bay Joint Operation Centre/ Facebook