Putting lives at risk

2013-01-15 00:00

I WISH to know what extremely pressing issues the Msunduzi Municipality is busy dealing with at the moment, since it seems to have no time to attend to the needs of the communities it serves. Or is there a set number of deaths it is targeting before it does something?

There have been complaints about the Woodhouse Road bridge for years, and still nothing has been done. People continue to drown and die, including children. People dying because of this dangerous bridge should be enough evidence for the municipality that whatever setup is currently running there is not successful, and either a proper bridge must be built or a safer alternative route for pedestrians must be made available.

People have been drowning in this area since 2006 (Weekend Witness, January 12) and still people continue to use this route. This indicates a need to travel through this area, especially for pedestrians. I am sure if there was as safer route, they would opt to use that instead.

This not only applies to the abovementioned bridge. There are many other dangerous areas within the city that the municipality should be taking responsibility for, especially if they threaten the lives of the same people the municipality is meant to be serving.

There is a huge patch of land north of our neighbourhood that is currently not being used. The tall grass was set alight by residents. The only reason they set it alight is because of the problems it causes. Women and children are raped in this area and no one hears or sees a thing because of the thickness and height of the grass. Lately, criminals have been stealing laundry off the washing lines and running into this area and up towards Richmond Road. It is very difficult to chase them because you cannot drive through this area. If the municipality was doing a good job of cutting the grass every so often and making sure it doesn’t grow tall enough for people to hide in and attack innocent passers-by, it would be a different story. There are many vibrant and energetic children in our neighbourhood who would appreciate being able to use this piece of land as either a playground or sportsfield of some sort, where they can play freely and happily. Instead, it is just a large plot of land that provides criminals and rapists with a secure hiding place.

Some people who are not residents of this area use this plot of land as a dumping site. So not only does it look horrible, but it smells, too. Who is supposed to stop people from dumping their trash there? All people see is an unused piece of land that is fit for rubbish because the municipality refuses to put it to good use or maintain it.

It is the same story with Ridge Park. There also is a dry grassy area there that is not being utilised. There is a swing there, but because the grass is too tall and too thick, children dare not go near it. Gone are the days when people would come and set up their mud houses on any vacant piece of land out of desperation and need, otherwise the municipality would have a real problem on their hands.

Not so long ago, a young boy who had just survived the traffic department’s hellish fitness interview, drowned in the pool at Alexandra Park. Having more than 1 000 people swimming in a pool that size all at once is crazy. I am shocked that the municipality overlooks such things. What makes matters worse is that only two lifeguards were present after the same municipality committed to having four lifeguards per 250 people. With the hot weather we have been experiencing recently, the municipality should be ensured that not only are people safe at all times, but that the facility is being run in an orderly fashion. With the earnings the municipality made on that particular day, it should have met the funeral costs of the Nongoma lad who died due to its negligence.

At some point, the municipality will have to realise its role and that it needs to fulfil it. Of course, not all problems can be addressed at once, but a problem that has been ongoing for years and causing people to die should definitely take priority. Or is this a strategy for reducing the population?

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