Fix our lights, say locals

2013-12-12 00:00

AFTER months of being ignored, fed-up residents of Christie Road in Pelham have started a poster campaign to shame the Msunduzi Municipality into fixing their streetlights.

So far no one has taken responsibility for putting up the posters. Residents who have also phoned the municipality to complain about the lights not working for the past four months, are fully supportive of the campaign.

There are about six neatly printed posters on lampposts and tied to trees. Their message:

•  “The municipalities (sic) solution to a problem is usually as bad as the problem.”

• “We phone, we plead, we beg, we pay — still no lights.”

•  “Please turn our street lights on we pay your salary.”

•  “We are in the dark so is our municipalities (sic) status.

• The municipality does not solve our problems it subsidises them.”

Clint Nortje spotted a poster outside his house yesterday morning and praised the initiative. Nortje said that he himself has been phoning and e-mailing the municipality without any response. He said the lights were off for months and after endless complaining they were repaired. They worked for a month and then went off again and have remained off for the past four months. Nortje believes the darkness is providing cover for criminals. In the past month at least two cars have been stolen.

He said a child was run down in the street and there have been accidents at the corner of Christie and Ritchie roads where, in the darkness, road signs and markings are not clearly visible.

Ward councillor Vic Winterbach confirmed that the streetlight problem has gone unresolved for months. Winterbach said that regrettably, Christie Road was only one of many areas affected — other areas in his ward were suffering the same fate.

“I have taken these matters up with the municipality to no meaningful or lasting effect; repairs, when they happen, consistently last for a few days before the same areas are again plunged into darkness,” Winterbach said.

He added that he was fully supportive of the poster campaign launched in the area and understood the residents’ frustrations.

Winterbach said the municipality was seemingly unable to appreciate the dangers and difficulties to which residents in the affected areas are subjected. “The streets concerned become crime hotspots after dark … they are open invitations for anyone loitering with criminal intent. Any and all attempts by residents to persuade the municipality of the urgent necessity for the repair and regular maintenance of our streetlights are to be welcomed in the strongest terms,” Winterbach said.

Head of the electricity department, Sabata Nomnganga, said he had discovered that a large part of the problem was that many contractors previously employed by the municipality were not qualified leading to a number of botched jobs. He said they were in the process of rectifying this and employing new contractors, hence the delayed repairs.

Municipal spokesperson Brian Zuma said there was a response to the problem and it was fixed. However, the power failed again and upon checking, the electricians discovered a major cable fault‎that needs to be repaired. “This matter is receiving attention and power will be restored by next Friday [20/12/2013].

Crime spikes in dark streets, says ward councillor

Letter sent by ward councillor Vic Winterbach to the Deputy Municipal Manager, Thokozani Maseko

“Re: the broken street lights [Ref no 125705]:

I refer to the e-mail from a resident in my ward with regard to the continual breakdown of street lights in Maud Ave, Scottsville. Regrettably, it is not only Maud Avenue that has been in darkness for the last few months, but also the streets leading off Maud Ave, i.e. Vere Rd, Isabel Rd and Lamond Place. In addition, Christie Road, between Jesmond Road and Ritchie Road, and all the side roads leading off Christie Road, i.e. Bromhead, Melville, Clarke Roads, have likewise been without streetlights for the last three months.

I chair the Scottsville/Pelham CPF [Community Policing Forum] sub-forum, and can confirm that serious crimes are being committed in these areas under the cloak of darkness — ranging from assaults GBH, Theft of and out of motor vehicles, burglaries and robberies to rape — I have SAPS stats to bear out this deplorable state of affairs.

Your urgent intervention in this matter to rectify what has become a most dangerous situation — likely to increase in ferocity as the festive season progresses — would be very much appreciated.

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