Cross-border influx burdens KZN

2013-04-22 00:00

AN influx of people from the Eastern Cape and Lesotho is reportedly burdening some KwaZulu-Natal municipalities as they struggle to cope with mounting infrastructure backlogs.

This emerged when a National Council of Provinces delegation visited the province last week to monitor service delivery by the provincial government and municipalities.

Addressing a press conference on Friday, Sisonke District Mayor Mluleki Ndobe said the district was experiencing a number of challenges in supplying houses in the Greater Kokstad Municipality.

These included a lengthy process to acquire land from private owners and cross-border issues between KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.

“There are a number of people coming from the Eastern Cape looking for better opportunities in Kokstad, and that is increasing the burden on housing. That’s why we experience backlogs.”

Ndobe said the municipality was ensuring that more houses were built.

In the Franklin housing project, the initial 250 housing units earmarked were increased by 200.

Asked how other services in the district were burdened by the influx of people, Ndobe downplayed the matter in apparent fear that his comments would attract criticism.

“I don’t want to elevate this issue of boundaries. We are a unitary country. We don’t want to sound as if we discriminate against the people of the Eastern Cape.”

Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille last year controversially labelled pupils from the Eastern Cape who move to the Western Cape in search of a better education as “education refugees”.

Ndobe said the infrastructure in the district’s towns was unable to cope with the demands of the current population.

“Some of our infrastructure was meant for a few.

“Now that you have an influx into our cities, you have a lot of pressure on our infrastructure in terms of water and sanitation,” he said.

“We are investing a lot of money to upgrade our water treatment works and sewerage treatment works. We also work with the Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Department to rehabilitate our small towns in the district,” he said.

The NCOP’s Louis Nzimande said the influx problem was not confined to Kokstad — people from Lesotho were crossing into KwaZulu-Natal.

The provincial Health Department disclosed two months ago that 27 502 patients who normally live in the Eastern Cape attended clinics in the Ugu District in 2012.

Replying to a DA MPL’s question in the KZN Legislature, Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo said it cost the provincial department R3 056 477 to provide healthcare for Eastern Cape residents in the 2012/13 financial year.

At the time, the DA’s Mark Steele said KwaZulu-Natal could not provide an unsubsidised health service to Eastern Cape residents, totalling millions of rand, without some form of compensation.

• mayibongwe.maqhina

@witness.co.za

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