The much-feared Great White shark, whose reputation is often undeserved. (Image: Eric Hanauer, National Geographic) The SOS Shark Centre in Kalk Bay. (Image: Rethink the Shark)Janine ErasmusThe SOS Foundation – Save Our Seas – has opened a new shark research and education centre in Kalk Bay, south of Cape Town on the Cape peninsula, one of the world’s prime Great White shark zones. The Save Our Seas Shark Centre (SOSSC) aims to educate the public about the environmental importance of sharks, and to dispel the inaccurate notion that they are nothing but vicious killing machines that will attack unprovoked.This is far from the truth, says the SOS Foundation. Sharks are vulnerable and in trouble ecologically – with more than 100 million sharks disappearing from our water every year their numbers are dwindling rapidly. The world’s shark population has declined by 90% since the 1950s and 110 shark species are now listed as threatened with extinction on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.South Africa is now stepping in to help save the sharks. Lesley Rochat, who has worked on the SOS Foundation’s M-Sea programme, is the manager of the SOSSC. “We will use the very channels and methods employed by the media to brand sharks as nature’s outcasts to turn the tables,” she said.The M-Sea programme is an initiative in which ragged tooth sharks are tagged with ultrasonic and satellite tracking devices, and released. Partners in the programme are the AfriOceans Conservation Alliance, the SOS Foundation, and the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town. This is part of the aquarium’s ongoing work to learn more about the species. The ambassador for M-Sea, the ragged tooth shark Maxine, was tagged and released back into the ocean in 2004 after her capture in shark nets in 1995.AfriOceans maintains that sharks are considered good bio-indicators of the health of the ocean, yet despite this important role they are not a conservation priority. Sharks play a vital role in maintaining the delicate balance of marine ecosystems by taking out weak and diseased fish. They help to help control populations of other predators, and if they are eliminated from the food chain the other predators will increase, which will in turn cause the reduction of other important species of fish further down the food chain – species that humans depend on for food.According to SOS Foundation executive director Chris Clarke, the SOSCC aims to play a central role in shark conservation in southern Africa, and by throwing open its doors to the public will be an ever-present reminder of the importance of sharks in the ecosystem. “Increased global awareness of the need to protect our ocean’s limited resources, in particular sharks, lies at the heart of all SOSSC goals,” he said, adding that there is a real need for the shark centre so that people can learn more about marine conservation and the myths about sharks.The SOSCC’s planned activities include scientific research projects, and awareness and education projects for the public at large, with a special emphasis on children. It will also embark on scientific collaboration between experts from research institutions, governments and the industry.Learning more about sharksThe non-profit SOS Foundation is based in Geneva, Switzerland, and was established in 2000 to increase public awareness of the marine environment, our greatest shared natural resource, and to promote its preservation and conservation. The founding member of the SOS Foundation remains anonymous to this day and is referred to in all literature simply as The Founder.The organisation has operations all around the world, with a diverse range of projects on the go in more than 30 countries. It has conducted operations in South Africa for over five years, and its projects include research on great white sharks in False Bay, and on tiger sharks in KwaZulu-Natal. It is also a partner in the M-Sea ragged tooth shark-tagging programme.One of the first SOS grant recipients was the SharkWorld exhibition that opened at Iziko Museums in Cape Town in October 2004 and is still open. The exhibition was developed under the guidance of world-renowned ichthyologist and shark specialist Dr Leonard Campagno, head of the museum’s Shark Research Centre. Campagno is also the chief scientist at the new Shark Centre.Iziko’s Shark Research Centre is one of only a handful of organisations worldwide that focus on the class Chondrichthyes – that is, cartilaginous fishes (sharks and rays) or shark-like fishes. Besides fundamental research projects into evolution, behavioural ecology and conservation of these animals, the centre informs and educates the public as well as serving as an advisory body to commercial fisheries and international research bodies.South Africa’s Natal Sharks Board is the only organisation of its kind in the world, according to the board. With more than 40 years of experience in the prevention of shark attacks and research on sharks, the board acts as an international consulting body that supports and promotes the conservation of sharks.Helping to save our sharksSharks are hunted extensively for their fins. Shark fins are among the most expensive foods in the world, surpassed only by such delicacies as truffles (the real ones) and some caviars. Even in South Africa sharks are killed for this reason, although illegally by poachers, as the practice is prohibited in this country. The Great White shark is protected by law in South Africa and the country pioneered an international convention to protect Great Whites from attack by humans.While it is said that almost 80% of Chinese people are unaware that shark-fin soup is made from shark fins and don’t realise the danger to the animals, the slaughter continues. According to the Shark Savers organisation, sharks are being driven to the brink of extinction because of the increased demand for shark-fin soup, which in China is a sign of prosperity especially among the growing middle class.Shark meat in this region is now many times more expensive than other types of fish. A bowl of shark-fin soup costs around $100 while dried shark fins cost anywhere from $100 to $300 per pound, says Shark Savers. The organisation says that a single Whale shark pectoral fin can sell for up to $15 000. The Whale shark is the largest fish in our waters and is not a predator but relies mainly on plankton for its nutrition. It is found all over the world.South Africa is prime shark territoryThe coasts of South Africa are home to great shark populations, and they are one of the country’s most popular tourist attractions. Shark tourism is on the rise and many cage diving operations have sprung up along the coasts, catering to those who seek the excitement of being among the creatures in their own habitat.South African waters are home to several species that have been known to attack humans, which only adds to the thrill. Among these are the Zambezi, Great White and Tiger sharks. However, says Chris Clarke, the threat of shark attacks on humans is highly exaggerated. “Last year, only one person was killed by a shark in the whole world. They might bite a human, but usually when they realise it’s not a seal they let go.”Useful linksSave Our Seas FoundationSave Our Seas group on FacebookAfriOceans Conservation AllianceMaxine the sharkRethink the SharkNatal Sharks BoardKalk BayIziko Museums of Cape TownTwo Oceans AquariumShark SaversSharkologyThe Shark TrustCITESIUCN Red List
Ramatlhodi was the ANC president’s speechwriter. He recalls a sharp dresser who was meticulous in his attention to detail and unwaveringly dedicated to liberation.Ngoako Ramatlhodi remembers Oliver Tambo as meticulous, in dress and turn of phrase. (Image: Ngoako Ramatlhodi)Amukelani ChaukeThe late struggle stalwart Oliver Reginald Tambo was a perfectionist – he was so thorough and meticulous that in the late 1980s and early 1990s, he would make his speechwriters rewrite drafts until he was satisfied.In some instances, he would end up only reading the opening paragraphs of the speech and deliver the remainder of his address off-the-cuff.Before the era of computers, former public service and administration minister advocate Ngoako Ramatlhodi, who was a youth activist in his thirties at the time, was appointed speechwriter to the then exiled ANC president at a time when political parties were banned.Between 1987 and 1993 – during which time Tambo’s health took its toll following a stroke in the mid-1980s – Ramatlhodi, who had gained much political insight through his work in youth structures in exile, grew close to Tambo.The president was navigating sensitive political terrain while South Africa was on a knife’s edge and was on the verge of opening negotiations that would dismantle the apartheid regime.In an interview Ramatlhodi said that looking back on that period, writing for a selfless, great struggle stalwart such as Tambo was at times challenging and in some instances, very insightful.The advocate was part of a committee in the Presidency with veteran struggle stalwarts Jack Simons, Edwin Mabitse (real name Edward Mabitsela) and the first Speaker of the democratic parliament Frene Ginwala, who was based in London.“The two of us [Ramatlhodi and Mabitse] were made the president’s speech writers and secretaries and then we formed a committee in the Presidency with Jack Simons.“[We] would be faced with typewriters on a daily basis and the old man was a perfectionist – he would mark us red – there were no computers in those days. So if it is marked red, that means you are going to start afresh on the typewriter all over again.“But he would give us work quite ahead of time. Let’s say he was going to make a speech in May, he would then say a month before we should start drafting that speech, or a month and a half before. Then we kept on taking the drafts to him and he looks at them, asks you questions like ‘Do you understand what you are saying? Do you think the president of the ANC would say this like that?’“If you were properly dressed he would take off his glasses and say: ‘You look so smart.” (Image: Brand South Africa)“Then he puts you back in line and says I think you should articulate this thing this way and this way. And you would go and do a rewrite,” he said.In February, President Jacob Zuma declared 2017 the year of OR Tambo to recognise the struggle stalwart’s contribution to the liberation struggle. Ramatlhodi said Tambo was “a patriot” who cared about language.“He knew the politics, he had the content… He was very passionate about the liberation of our people and even in hard times, when he [fell ill] before 1985, he had a stroke and then we went to this conference in… Zambia and there he said ‘My body is weak; it is limping. But what remains of it shall be consumed in the struggle.’“He was definitely clear that he was going to fall with his boots on and I think that is what happened.”The rise of OR TamboBorn on 27 October 1917 in Kantilla, Bizana, in Mpondoland in the Eastern Cape, Tambo ran an attorney’s practice with Nelson Mandela in central Johannesburg in 1951 before Mandela was banned. This was after he joined the ANC in 1940.In 1953, Tambo’s profile as an anti-apartheid activist rose and he replaced the then national secretary, Walter Sisulu, who had been banned by the government for his role in the 1952 Defiance Campaign. In 1957, Tambo was elected deputy president of the ANC.Subsequent to the Sharpeville Massacre on 21 March 1960, Tambo embarked on a Mission in Exile to gain international support for the South African liberation movement. He became ANC president in 1969, a position he kept until 1991, making him the longest-serving president of the ANC.Ramatlhodi handed the penIn the late 1980s he recruited Ramatlhodi as his private secretary and speechwriter. At the time, Ramatlhodi was head of the ANC’s Regional Political and Military Council of the Zimbabwe Mission. He had spent time in Lesotho, where he was the student representative council (SRC) president at the National University of Lesotho. Former Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni was the secretary responsible for publicity in the same student body.Usually, Ramatlhodi would travel to Angola for military training and return to Lesotho to continue his studies. But on one occasion, he was told to go to Lusaka in Zambia because he “was needed” there.He was taken to the ANC’s headquarters in exile, where the liberation movement’s top officials were waiting for him, as was Mboweni.Ramatlhodi and Mboweni were briefed about what has taking place in Lesotho. Times were tense: the South African Defence Force had massacred ANC members in Lesotho, Botswana and Mozambique.Their appointment as envoys was mainly the result of the access they had to frontline leaders and ministers, including the prime minister of Lesotho at the time, through their SRC positions.Ramatlhodi was later deported from Lesotho and was sent to Russia. There, he did military combat work and on his return to Africa, he was put in charge of the council in the Zimbabwe Mission, when the ANC was devising a strategy to start negotiations with the apartheid regime.In 1987, he was appointed speechwriter to Tambo and formed part of the team that went on to draft the Harare Declaration.The Constitutional PrinciplesRamatlhodi said one of the most important documents he wrote under Tambo’s watch was the Constitutional Principles, which he co-drafted under the ANC Constitutional Committee to define a debate on the country’s new constitution.“We used to write [a lot of documents] but one of them had to do with the conditions for negotiations, which was a statement issued by the ANC on the conditions of negotiations, release of political prisoners, the unbanning of political organisations, all those things.“There are many, many documents that I wrote. For example, the Constitutional Principles of the region, which I participated in even when I was in Harare.”The Harare DeclarationIn 1989, Ramatlhodi was part of the team that drafted the liberation movement’s Harare Declaration, a historic paper that laid the basis for negotiations between the apartheid regime and the liberation movement.He said this was one of the most important pieces of writing that he was part of as Tambo’s speechwriter.“When we were drafting the Harare Declaration in 1989, we did a tour of the frontline seat – …Tanzania, Zimbabwe… for a week.“What happened was we wrote a draft… and sent it to people in South Africa and the neighbouring states for their comment and then we followed up to engage with the authorities so that they made their inputs into the final outcome of that document.”After the roadshow, they returned to Luanda in Angola to draft the final document before proceeding to Lusaka. In the group was former president Thabo Mbeki; ANC strategist and former head of policy and in the co-ordinating advisory unit in the Presidency Joel Netshitendzhe; intellectual and activist Pallo Jordan, former member of parliament and minister; and former justice minister Penuell Maduna.Ramatlhodi said Tambo was of the opinion that the document underemphasised the role of the armed struggle in the liberation war. He instructed Ramatlhodi to return to the team and raise the view as his own.“That’s Oliver Tambo for you. He did not want it to come from him because they would easily be persuaded because the president said so. So I had to go argue on that point on his behalf. So it illustrates the point that he was not self-imposing,” he said.The stroke and the comeback speechTambo suffered a mild stroke in 1981; eight years later, on 9 August 1989, he suffered a more severe stroke in Lusaka and was rushed to London. During his recovery, Ramatlhodi was sent to the British capital to help him regain his speech, as Tambo was only comfortable with people familiar to him.“Towards December that year the ANC was going to have a conference in South Africa, so I went back to help him regain his speech because he was comfortable with familiar surroundings.“We prepared the speech, which was a comeback speech, after 27 years, and he delivered it at the ANC conference at Nasrec, which was the first legal ANC conference in South Africa since 1960.“I showed him that speech on the machine manually. But the good thing about him – he was a fighter – by the time he returned [to South Africa], he was reading the speech. And he made many other speeches across the country subsequently,” said Ramatlhodi, who was 39 at the time.This followed then state president FW de Klerk unbanning all anti-apartheid political parties in February 1990, paving the way for negotiations that would end apartheid.Tambo delivered the speech on 16 December 1990 at a rally following the close of the ANC elective conference. It was at this gathering that Mandela was elected Tambo’s deputy president.In his speech, Tambo said: “South Africa is at the crossroads. Our struggle, complemented by efforts of the international community, has rendered apartheid unworkable. Thus, those who rule us without our consent have been compelled to accept the humanity of a black person in this country. For the first time in a period of 70 years, the legitimate aspirations of the overwhelming majority of our people have possibilities of being realised.”Tambo made several more speeches written by Ramatlhodi and at the ANC’s 48th National Conference in Durban in July 1991, he delivered what seemed to be a farewell speech in his opening address. He later told delegates of his intention to step down, urging them to support Mandela as his successor.After he declined a nomination to be president again, delegates created the national chairperson position in honour of Tambo.In the early hours of 24 April 1993, Tambo suffered his third and fatal stroke – two weeks after the assassination of Chris Hani, then leader of the SA Communist Party and Umkhonto we Sizwe chief of staff.Tambo the smart dresserRamatlhodi said while it was usually all hard work and putting pen to paper to craft speeches and document what would later become the liberation movement’s most-prized possessions, he remembered an ANC president who was a smart dresser.“He loved his clothes. And he wanted us to dress very well. If you were shabbily dressed he would look at you and [ask] ‘Ngoako, don’t you have clothes?’“I remember on one trip [during] the Harare Declaration, I don’t think I had enough suits with me. He called the late Stanley Mabizela and said ‘Take this man to town and buy him clothes.’ He gave him money. I got about three nice suits that day.“If you were properly dressed he would take off his glasses and say: ‘You look so smart.’”One of Ramatlhodi’s favourite phrases from the speeches he wrote was “United in our diversity”.“That line comes from a paragraph in our speech where we say: ‘We seek to create a united, democratic and non-racial society. We have a vision of a South Africa in which black and white shall live and work together as equals in conditions of peace and prosperity.’ Tambo made this speech at Georgetown University in Washington, DC on 27 January 1987. At this time, South Africa was at the height of the armed struggle.”Following his time as Tambo’s speechwriter, Ramatlhodi stayed on in the office of the Presidency when Mandela for about six months after Mandela took over. This was while Mandela, affectionately known as Madiba, embarked on a world tour as ANC president.Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.
Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Sunny and dry for the rest of the week. Temperatures will slowly climb through the period. There can be a few more clouds around on Thursday, but they will not have any good moisture threat.Saturday Rain totalsA cold front moves through the state on Saturday. This cold front is part of a very strong system that will pound the upper Midwest and northern plains with snow later this week. However, the front has limited moisture by the time it gets here, and will losing some strength too, with the strong low maturing over Canada. All that to say that we expect showers over Ohio with 90% coverage on Saturday, rain totals from a tenth to half an inch.Mostly sunny, dry and cooler for Sunday. We may even see some patchy frost Sunday morning over Ohio, but the threat does not look as impressive as 24 hours ago. However, models are still significantly different…with the GFS model much colder, and the Euro more mild. We will continue to watch this period for changes in cold air magnitude as we get closer to its arrival. WE stay dry for Monday with plenty of sunshine.Tuesday of next week, we see clouds increase, and then a few showers work through. From Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday midday we can see a few hundredths to half an inch of moisture develop, with the heaviest action overnight Tuesday night and Wednesday morning in far SE Ohio. Coverage will end up being around 70% of the state.We finish the 10 day period and go through the entire 11-16 day window with rain free weather. WE are dry from next Wednesday afternoon through the following Wednesday (23rd) with generally sunny to partly cloudy skies. As it stands right now, this could turn out to be another excellent harvest window.
Ocean research scientists of the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) would get an opportunity to work together with Bangladesh Oceanographic Research Institute (BORI) in areas where work has not been started in that country’s Exclusive Economic Zone(EEZ), said Director of NIO Sunil Kumar Singh here on Monday.He was addressing presspersons in the presence of a visiting delegation from Bangladesh led by Ashok Kumar Biswas, Director General, (BORI). The delegation was on a two-day visit to CSIR-National Institute of Oceanography, Dona Paula.Mr. Singh said that the visit was in connection with the recent Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (BCSIR), in Dhaka, towards a mutual co-operation between both the countries.The delegation visited CSIR-NIO to chalk out programme and plan towards training the manpower from Bangladesh for oceanographic research. “BORI is a new institute established three months back. They are going to start their research activity very soon. India has committed to help CHOGAM countries, Small Island Developing States (SIDS) countries and all Indian ocean countries,” said Mr. Singh.“We are going to help the new institute in all the aspects. Scientists from BORI will be visiting NIO on short and long-term duration to have training in oceanographic research and to have understanding of the subject. Similarly, NIO scientists will be visiting BORI to impart training in various fields of oceanography. It will not be limited to training, but we will be doing joint oceanographic research,” he said.“Bangladesh has got support since 1971 from Indian Government and have been getting full support from India since then. We feel that without India we will not be developed,’’ said Mr. Biswas.The delegation will also visit National Institute of Ocean Technology in Chennai.
Four years into the Swachh Bharat programme, Bihar has finally given up on a model of only allowing community-based incentives for toilet construction. Two weeks ago, the State switched to allowing individual household-based incentives, according to Parameswaran Iyer, Secretary of the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation. His department is responsible for the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan-Grameen, which aims to end the practice of open defecation in rural India. With just over a year to go for the October 2, 2019, deadline to become open defecation free (ODF), Bihar is the second worst performing State, lagging behind with almost 66% coverage. Only Odisha, with 62.5% coverage, fares worse.“Earlier, in Bihar, the whole village needed to be declared ODF. Only then was the compensation given,” explained Mr. Iyer on the sidelines of a press briefing on Thursday. “Now, whenever you build your own toilet, you get paid.”Under the Swachh Bharat programme, States were given freedom to tweak the way the scheme was implemented. Every household building a toilet was eligible for an incentive of ₹12,000. Some States paid the incentive only when the construction was over, while others paid it in parts during various stages of construction. Several States also used neighbourhood peer pressure to increase the speed of toilet construction, by declaring that no one would get paid until the entire village was declared ODF.“It worked in Haryana,” pointed out Mr. Iyer.However, different economic realities in Bihar resulted in frustrated villagers waiting for their neighbours to construct toilets before payment was sanctioned. The change in strategy could now help Bihar catch-up, said Mr. Iyer.
As power forward Bong Quinto and point guard John Calvo put to rest rumors that they’re leaving Letran, the Knights are expected to be at full-strength against the Mapua Cardinals in their NCAA Season 93 basketball tournament debut.“I’m just happy we’re a complete team now,” said Letran coach Jeff Napa.ADVERTISEMENT Pagasa: Kammuri now a typhoon, may enter PAR by weekend Pagasa: Storm intensifies as it nears PAR Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. LATEST STORIES “The goal is to play hard every game and stay competitive,” said JRU coach Vergel Meneses.With former San Sebastian star CJ Perez finally suiting up, the Pirates of coach Topex Robinson have been installed as one of the favorites of the season.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next MOST READ China furious as Trump signs bills in support of Hong Kong Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss PLAY LIST 02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games Petron-F2 tiff up El Nido residents told to vacate beach homes Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ Another vape smoker nabbed in Lucena LOOK: Jane De Leon meets fellow ‘Darna’ Marian Rivera Game time is at 4 p.m. on Tuesday at Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.Quinto and Calvo reportedly planned to transfer to La Salle in the UAAP, where they could have reunited with former Letran coach Aldin Ayo, before finally committing to stay with the Knights.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSWin or don’t eat: the Philippines’ poverty-driven, world-beating pool starsThe duo will join forces with guard Rey Nambatac, who is suiting up for Letran for the final time this season.In other games, Jose Rizal U gets the first crack at Lyceum’s improved roster at 2 p.m., while St. Benilde, which is in the midst of rebuilding its program under new coach TY Tang, also makes its season debut against Perpetual Help at noon. Ethel Booba on hotel’s clarification that ‘kikiam’ is ‘chicken sausage’: ‘Kung di pa pansinin, baka isipin nila ok lang’ View comments
India coach Gary Kirsten on Sunday paid rich tribute to Sachin Tendulkar for scoring a historic 50th Test ton in Centurion, describing him as professor of batting.Terming Tendulkar’s feat of scoring a half century of centuries as incredible, Kirsten credited his unmatched success to his sound technique, ability to play almost all the shots in the book and diligent preparedness.”It is an incredible feat. It must be a special one and he deserves it. He has the techniques to play almost all the shots in the book. He is the professor of batting,” Kirsten said, praising Tendulkar on becoming the first cricketer to score 50 Test tons here.”The key to his success is his approach to the game, his humility to learn and try to do better all the time. He diligently prepares for every match. For him, a Test match begins two days earlier, preparing for it. I am privileged to have associated with him for the last three years,” Kirsten said.”His success at the top level under the huge expectations in India is remarkable. It is quite different in India than other countries and the adulation he got there is amazing. At any time, Tendulkar will be surrounded by 300 people,” he said.Kirsten said despite the seniormost player in the team, Tendulkar was the one who spends most time at the nets and faces maximum number of balls.”He wants to face the maximum number of balls at the nets. You will not see him play a loose shot at the nets. He is focused all the time, he wants to do better all the time,” said Kirsten.advertisement”He has been phenomenal this year. I think he is playing better than ever. He is enjoying his cricket at present,” he said.The former South African opening batsman said despite his personal achievements, Tendulkar was a perfect team-man who wants to do his best for the team’s cause.”He is a perfect team-man and he always gives his best every time he goes out to a cricket field. He has been a huge motivational factor in the side in the past three years I have been associated with the team,” Kirsten said.About India staring defeat in the Test, Kirsten admitted South Africa are in a strong position.”We have a lot to work tomorrow. South Africa are in a strong position. But let us see what happens tomorrow. May be there is help from rain also,” he said.”But, the players have done well in the second innings.They have shown we can also play on equal terms. The strong batting display in the second innings will boost the confidence of the players in the series,” he added.- With PTI inputs
Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, says the Government will commence a street-signage programme in three parishes in January 2018, which will herald the start of a nationwide beautification and community development initiative. The Minister said the signage programme was conceptualised based on data gathered by the 2,700 youngsters across the island who were employed by the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development last summer to undertake audits of street lights and street signs. He said that while the Government has a responsibility to serve the nation, the citizens themselves “have to become partners with us in this mission”, adding that in excess of $16 billion is owed in arrears for property taxes islandwide. Story Highlights Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, says the Government will commence a street-signage programme in three parishes in January 2018, which will herald the start of a nationwide beautification and community development initiative.“We will be rolling out the project in Manchester, Westmoreland and St. Thomas, and then get the necessary funds to take the street signs right across the country,” the Minister said, as he addressed a property tax town hall meeting on November 8 in Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland.He said this programme will address concerns that many communities across the island are hard to identify, as there are no signs.“Some of the work of the municipal corporations, when it comes to beautification, includes identifying communities. There are many communities in Westmoreland (that) when you drive in them, you don’t even know the name of the roads because the street signs don’t exist,” the Minister noted.The Minister said the signage programme was conceptualised based on data gathered by the 2,700 youngsters across the island who were employed by the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development last summer to undertake audits of street lights and street signs.Mr. McKenzie appealed to citizens to pay their property taxes, as this is the only way the local authorities will be able to provide them with the basic services, amenities and infrastructure for modern-day living. He reminded the audience that taxes are collected in all countries of the world, and Jamaica is no different.He said that while the Government has a responsibility to serve the nation, the citizens themselves “have to become partners with us in this mission”, adding that in excess of $16 billion is owed in arrears for property taxes islandwide.He congratulated landowners in Westmoreland, who have demonstrated an “encouraging level of compliance” over the last three years by making concerted efforts to pay the requisite taxes. He said of the $607 million that was set as the Westmoreland target for the 2017/2018 financial year, more than $291 million has already been paid.“I find it difficult when people say they are not getting any benefit out of the taxes. While there may be weaknesses in some of what we do, there has been significant improvement in service delivery in this country. We are working hard to make a difference, but we can only do that if you buy into the reality that taxes are necessary in order for you to live in a decent and a clean country,” he said.