Dump managers

2009-02-09 00:00

Yet again the mess at Pietermaritzburg’s Woodhouse Road landfill site has caught the headlines. The memory that this was once rated among the best such facilities in the country is starting to fade and it is instead becoming a perpetual embarrassment. With landfill staff on strike last week and all manner of rubbish being dumped on the approach road, the situation threatens also to become a serious environmental and health hazard.

The staff grievances relate to the ill-maintained and broken equipment that they are supposed to use to run the site properly. They report that tipper trucks, rubbish compactors, water pumps and the computerised weighbridge are all not in full working order and images of parked graders overwhelmed by grass and weeds support that complaint. The staff blame management, and it seems that despite the promises given after the repeated fires at the dump in recent years there are still serious problems in this department.

This time the accusation of inept management in the municipality has been echoed from a very significant quarter, the mayor’s parlour itself. With the entire overtime budget exhausted and overspent just seven months into the financial year, despite assertions that the causes of excessive overtime claims in the past have been remedied, Msunduzi’s mayor and executive committee are reportedly on the warpath with their sights set on the municipal manager. Other allegations of non-compliance, such as the failure to convene management meetings, sign performance agreements and ensure that important reports are tabled timeously have also been made.

Valid explanations may yet emerge, but it is a very sorry situation. With the revised property valuation roll soon available for public scrutiny, ratepayers will be very concerned about getting value for their money, while the opposition parties will be ready to exploit every service-related grievance as the election approaches. Politics aside, what people want is a well-run municipality, with management in the hands of competent, efficient people and vacancies filled speedily by staff who can get the job done. Fifteen years into the new dispensation, the time for excuses has passed.

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