Kharag Singh pledges better services in Botany
Better transport management to tackle the growing traffic congestion, improved management of parks, reserves and other places of public utility, care of the elderly and raising the quality of life are among the issues that have brought Kharag Singh Sidhu to contest in the forthcoming Local Government Elections.
He is a Labour Party candidate for the Botany Division of the Howick Local Board.
It is no surprise that Mr Singh has announced his intention to serve as a member of the Local Government, for, community service has been a part of his life and career for three decades or more, here in New Zealand and in his native India.
“Auckland is a world-class City but it has issues that must be solved. I am passionate about Botany where I own and operate a small business for the past 24 years. This sub-division of Howick Local Board continues to grow exponentially, bringing with it challenges. If elected, I will address these challenges and improve the quality of life for our people,” he said.
Care of the Elderly
Elders in our communities are neglected and often suffer in silence and solitude, he said.
“I believe that we can serve them better and more effectively establishing an integrated network between organisations offering relevant services and community groups,” he said.
Mental Health is a major problem in New Zealand and ethnic communities are very vulnerable, compounded by various barriers including language and culture.
“Until recently, mental illness was not openly discussed for fear of being excluded but this stigma has gone. There is however a need for concerted efforts. I believe that the primary task is to increase awareness on mental health and remedial measures to tackle the illness. It is important to recognise the fact that mental illness issues vary between communities and cultures and adopt approaches that are appropriate,” he said.
Harnessing Youth Power
As a responsible parent, Mr Singh understands the aspirations of younger members of the society and the importance of empowering them with opportunities and incentives to grow and contribute to the progress of the society and the economy.
He is a strong advocate of hearing the voice of the youth and representing them with respect.
“We must reach out to young people at schools and engage with them, through the Youth Council and with the support of the Local Board. Although students in schools are below the voting age, their perspectives and feelings should be taken into account. They are our future and hence we should respond to their needs and perform our role as true representatives of our constituents,” Mr Singh said.
Reducing traffic congestion
It is trite knowledge that traffic congestion has become a major problem, costing Aucklanders more than $1.3 billion every year in lost and unproductive time.
The loss is computed at $3.5 million every working day, compelling businesses to hire about 20% more staff to carry out the same work.
“Traffic congestion not only affects productivity but also impacts on the climate. We must address this problem on priority. Many parts of East Auckland are not covered by public transport including bus service, which must be corrected immediately,” he said.
Mr Singh believes that a multimodal transport system, integrating park and ride, busways, cycling and walking and other options to improve the traffic flow and even reduce vehicle traffic, is imperative.
“We need a robust and modern infrastructure which provides for better public transport options, e-bikes, scooters, separate cycleways and carpools,” he said.
Mr Singh said that while Climate Change is a global problem, reflected by the central government initiatives, the challenge should actually be tackled at the local board level.
He supports environmental initiatives at the grass-root level to reduce carbon footprint.
His initiatives include installation of solar panels, energy-efficient systems such as use of sensor lights, environmentally-friendly measures at homes and community education.
Mr Singh arrived in Auckland 33 years ago with a mind filled with ideas and his heart filled with ambitions.
Hailing from an illustrious family in Chandigarh, Punjab, he was used to hard work, perseverance and pursuit of quality in life.
Graduate degrees in Arts (Economics & Public Administration) and Law from the Punjab University added to his eligibility for employment but the times were hard and challenging.
He launched his career at Sicpa Australia and Scipa New Zealand Limited (a security ink and system supplier) and gained knowledge of the market and its needs.
Eight years later, in 1995, he established K & R Ganday Traders Limited, a holding company to own and operate Everglade 4 Square (a franchise of Foodstuffs, which owns several popular supermarket brands) at Manukau Heights in South Auckland.
Honesty, dedicated teamwork and unity are the trilogy of factors that have helped the family enterprise grow from strength to strength and the long hours of work do not bother Mr Singh and those around him.
An active member of the Sikh community, he is an engaging golfer at the Manukau Golf Club, involved in developing junior members, organising tournaments and mobilising financial resources.
Mr Singh’s interest also extends to Cricket and travelling.