Stop finding quick-fix solutions

2014-09-08 00:00

EVER since Msunduzi Municipality launched its clean-up campaign, residents who care about the city and the environment have enthusiastically embraced it.

Nicola-Ann Erasmus was livid at catching police officers littering, while residents in Hesketh Drive are furious that new pavements laid out by the municipality have all been broken by trucks parking on the pavement.

Erasmus wrote: “Every day I drive through absolute filth and litter and see people littering all the time, but on Friday afternoon (August 22 at 4.30 pm) what I witnessed just blew me away.

“I was driving up Edendale Road and was waiting at the intersection of Edendale Road and Caluza Road to proceed right into Caluza Road. In front of me was this police vehicle that I photographed. I witnessed the occupants of this vehicle throwing their litter out the windows of the police vehicle. Where are we going as a country when the supposed ‘law keepers’ are so low as to throw their own filth out of a vehicle window?

“I was so appalled, I hooted at the vehicle and was just given filthy looks and filthy hand signals. This infuriated me so much that I then went straight to the Hilton police station to report this incident. Warrant Officer Zondi listened to my complaint and he appeared to be sympathetic and in agreement with what I said but wrote everything down on a scrap piece of paper — nothing official looking. However, what he does with this information remains to be seen.”

My colleague Khanyisani Dlomo has been trying to follow up this matter. The police asked for Erasmus’s contact details so that they could follow up with her. These were given to them, however Erasmus heard no more.

Then Dlomo was told that a photograph of a police van was not proof enough. He informed Erasmus, who found the response totally ridiculous. “What person walks around with a camera all day, every day, except maybe a reporter!!! Why on earth would I waste my time by taking photos of the vehicle whilst driving and then contacting The Witness!! You mean to tell me that unless a ‘crime’ is photographed it is not a crime. No wonder this city is a slum.”

Erasmus cares so deeply about the environment that she was prepared to stick her neck out and identify the errant police officers who were littering. She may be right that nothing will come of it, but here is a message to all law enforcers, to please set an example. South Africa is not another country, it belongs to all of us who live in it!

Similarly residents in Lincolnmeade want to know what the municipality is going to do about the trucks that are breaking the pavements down at the bottom of Hesketh Drive. Apparently the municipality had done up the area beautifully and now the trucks coming off the highway and going to the Spar are parking on the pavements and storm water drains — they are all broken again.

Msunduzi’s Madeleine Jackson-Plaatjies responded that the municipality’s traffic department has been conducting ongoing law enforcement in this area with these trucks.

“The problem that we face is bigger than just issuing a fine as no matter how many times they are charged, they just pay the fines and go back there all over again. It is a vicious cycle that requires a medium- to long-term solution. Ideally what is required is a truck stop in the Pietermaritzburg area. The municipality does not have funding for a truck stop and we are currently preparing a business plan in order to apply for funding. There is no quick-fix solution to this but we are working a long-term plan,” she said.

Street lighting not being upfront

I received a rapping over the knuckles saying that street lights were fixed when they were not.

The response received from the street lighting unit was published in good faith.

The Woodgates of Celtis Road wrote about being disappointed with the “thumbs up” write-up in last week’s Witness Warriors. As far as they are concerned it is a “thumbs down”.

There are at least 13 street lights not working and no evidence of anyone from the electricity department working in Celtis Road. At one of the poles the workers simply removed the whole light fitting and left rubbish lying on the road, including their screwdriver. “However, we are grateful to you for what you have done in at least getting them into the road, even if it was just once, and getting one street light working.”

Colin Love wrote: “ I would really like to know if and when the street light poles that were erected many months ago at the off/on ramp to the N3 Mkondeni have ever worked or will ever work again.

“This is also as you enter the ‘City of Choice’ and also the off-ramp to get to our airport?”

Continuing disconnection saga

Last week the issue of electricity disconnections was highlighted in this column.

The conundrum continues as the municipality has not responded as to how residents are getting disconnection fees on their light bills without an electricity contractor visiting their property.

N. Moodley wrote that she’s had a similar incident to Lisa’s (mentioned in last week’s column).

“I am being charged for a disconnection visitation fee, even though they didn’t disconnect, as I had shown them my bill proving that I had made payment on July 31. I’m told I still have to pay visition fees. This is an absolute rip-off.”

Jenny Hammond says: “I wrote to you earlier this year about our problems with our electricity account with the Msunduzi Municipality when they dropped us off the system in October last year. Thanks to your intervention, Moses Ngobese put the matter in the hands of Marlon Hoskins who eventually sorted it out. This did take a while and in the meantime I had written to the municipality every month since December and we had paid a nominal amount each month to avoid disconnection, although we were not sure where our payments were being credited. It was only towards the end of June that we did receive a proper statement and were able to settle the amount owing by us.

“However, in that statement there were four ‘disconnection fees’ of R380 each although we had never once been disconnected. When I pointed this out to Marlon, he did pass a credit for those disconnection fees. It would seem that there is something very wrong with the system that someone is charging those disconnection fees, but not doing any disconnecting, as Lisa in your article complains. In our case they cannot say they could not gain access as our complex did not have any security gates at that time, they having only just recently been installed.”

Hopefully we will have answers from the municipality by next week. In the meantime, the municipality has denied that the two properties mentioned in last week’s column were disconnected even though their bills were fully paid up.

Marlon Hoskins said the properties did not have power because trees had fallen on the cables and that these were reported to faults. The resident in at least one of the dwellings denied that there were any fallen trees nearby and she saw the cut off cables. She was twice told that she had been disconnected.

‘Hippo pool’ fixed

at last

James Mills wanted readers to know that the “hippo pool” in Alexandra Road after Ritchie Road has gone and the problem of the leaking water was no longer present. This has been a long drawn out episode where the water section had dug a hole and could not find the source of the leak. In the meanwhile, the pool of water grew bigger and residents were concerned that it was not properly barricaded and some unsuspecting pedestrian could fall in. A week later Mills reported, “Good news! The potholes in Alexandra Road at the ‘hippo pool’ were filled and tarred this afternoon and all is now in order. It took just over two months for attention to the water leak and eight days for the repair of the road.”

Pothole plea

Residents in Hilton Gardens have been trying in vain to have the potholes in their suburb repaired.

The uMngeni Municipality responded: The potholes on the said roads in Hilton Gardens, namely Elizabeth and Weir, Mimosa and William Younger are scheduled to be repaired within a week starting next week. The assessment by our roads section within the technical services envisages the repairs to be completed over a period of two days. The team’s schedule within the same week will move to Sutton Road, also in Hilton, to repair potholes there. The repairs on Sutton Road will take two days as well. We would like to take this opportunity to assure residents within the municipal jurisdiction that the municipality’s management is concerned about the pothole challenge and various possibilities are being investigated to holistically address this challenge including possibly resurfacing a number of potholed roads in the CBD and various suburbs.”

Disrespecting the dead

John Deare, committee member of the Natal Inland Family History Society, wrote: “Over a month ago you published a piece about our concerns regarding the Commercial Road cemetery and the council’s response that they would attend to it. The gaping hole in the fence near old Grey’s Hospital is still there. Someone yesterday propped a paving stone against it but that does not bar entry.”

The Witness recently reported that thieves were caught stealing metal fittings from the tombstones and Deare said that the Community Policing Forum (CPF) has also taken up this issue with the municipality.

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