Plan to oust Mettler

2010-11-12 00:00

WASTE management in the city is failing once more.

Rubbish has again lain uncollected in most parts of the city in the past week, and this time fingers are pointing to political interference by councillors.

For more than a week, workers in the waste management division have allegedly been on a go-slow and refusing to go on rubbish collection rounds.

The areas worst affected are the central business district, parts of Ashburton, Scottsville, Mkondeni and the northern suburbs.

Insiders at city hall say the go-slow is the result of a stand-off between the municipal union and the administration.

There are two explanations offered: one is that the workers want to go back to a system of getting paid overtime.

The second explanation centres on allegations that there are political forces at work aimed at sabotaging the efforts of Msunduzi administrator Johann Mettler and his provincial intervention team

The Witness has previously reported that there is a split among members the South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) in Msunduzi because a faction in the union, which is allegedly faithful to former councillors, wants to oust Mettler.

There are said to be plans to march against him. The reported aim is to run the waste management department into the ground in order to provoke city residents into blaming Mettler and his team for failing to maintain an efficient waste collection service in the city.

Others believe there is a simpler explanation and that the reason for the uncollected rubbish is the dilapidated fleet of garbage trucks and staff shortages.

They say the trucks repeatedly break down, causing delays in rubbish collection.

For more than two months the municipality has employed temporary workers who went the extra mile to collect rubbish.

However, their contracts have lapsed and with the fleet experiencing problems, the rubbish collection system has faltered.

Sources say it is clear that workers in the section are not happy. Some reportedly arrive at work in dribs and others even fail to report for duty.

The sources say the workforce needs to be brought into line.

Residents in the CBD said their rubbish was last collected more than a week ago.

Streets in the CBD are usually cleaned every evening and the rubbish bins are emptied on a Friday. This has not been done.

A resident in Hoosen Haffejee Street said that when she phoned city hall she was told that the waste management staff are no longer co-operating: they are not coming to work and the service has broken down.

“What has been happening in the rainy weather is that vagrants have been tipping out the dirt and using the black bin bags to keep dry.

“The whole of the street is in a mess. It is a health hazard and all the promises by the new administration that they have got cleaning under control has proven to be not true.

“They have not managed to put something lasting in place,” she said.

Msunduzi Municipality spokesperson Brian Zuma said the municipality is faced with serious challenges with the department in terms of human resources, vehicles and overtime charges.

“Since we were forced to stop overtime because of lack of finances, we have been faced with problems from a human resource point of view.

“Some of the vehicles are over 20 years old and they break down regularly.

“This has impacted negatively on us delivering the required service.

“A strategy is in place to deal with waste collection … We are looking at the situation very seriously.

“We apologise to the public for what has happened. We are working towards improving the situation,” said Zuma.

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