City revamp effort praised

2014-07-08 00:00

MSUNDUZI resident and deputy minister of Environment Affairs Barbara Thompson supports The Witness’s Clean the Capital City campaign and has apologised to residents for their grimy city.

Thompson wrote to Witness editor Andrew Trench saying that she welcomed the campaign because it was an initiative where citizens were prepared to work together with the municipality and government.

In her letter, she said she had taken note of the concerns expressed in all the articles about the state of the city and wished to “humbly apologise to all affected; their concerns are certainly valid and correct”.

Thompson said she would be contacting Msunduzi Municipality to explore how her department could assist in addressing the waste management challenges of the city. She said the municipality also needed to tighten some of its by-laws, educate residents on the laws that govern this particular issue and she called on residents to respect the laws and abide by them.

The deputy minister lauded the business people who revamped a derelict downtown park in Pietermaritz Street, renaming it Mandela Central Park. She said she had personally driven around Pietermaritzburg and knew about the bad state of the park and that it had become a hang-out for criminals and a threat to the future of the city’s children.

Thompson thanked those involved in the project for using their initiative and for their generosity. “They did not wait for government but took the lead and invested in this project,” she added.

She reiterated that it was everybody’s responsibility to contribute to a clean environment. “The media, in particular, can play a very important role in the ongoing effort to educate and instill a sense of awareness in this regard.”

She said she was aware that the issues raised about Msunduzi’s waste management were done constructively and she hoped her response to the matter would also be received in the same spirit.

Thompson said waste management challenges were not unique to Msunduzi but extended to other communities across the country.

She said the biggest challenges included insufficient budgets, skills shortages, infrastructure problems and far wider areas to service than before democracy. These were exacerbated by the growing of urban sprawls and the rapid growth of the economy that increased the volume of waste.

“Government is serious about maintaining a clean environment. Our Constitution guarantees citizens the right to live in a clean environment that is not harmful to their wellbeing. To give effect to this right of our citizens, we have enacted various laws, including the National Environmental Waste Management Act, which provides the legislative framework for waste management in South Africa.”

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