PMB infrastructure ‘bleeding’

2016-06-22 13:15
The red-brick road around the City Hall.

The red-brick road around the City Hall. (Jonathan Burton)

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Pietermaritzburg - From R890 million two years ago, Pietermaritzburg now needs R1,4 billion to fund urgently ­needed upgrades to the water infrastructure.

Addressing the council’s executive committee yesterday, the general manager for infrastructure services Sabatha Nomnganga said a long-term ­infrastructure upgrade plan was created two years ago; however, funding was an issue.

“When the plan was discussed two years ago, we required R890 million, but now we need R1,4 billion. It is just a question of funding, but I have gone as far as the high powers in Cogta (the Co-operative Governance Department) with the proposals for funding and we will see from there,” he said.

Nomnganga said it was true that the water and electricity infrastructure was “bleeding” and needed to be upgraded desperately, but the lack of funding meant dealing with more burst pipes and water losses.

The city management was also questioned on how the electricity unit was operating, considering it had a 90,7% vacancy rate, contributing to the overall 5 800 vacancies in the municipality.

DA councillor Judith Lawrence said people in Msunduzi were “suffering desperately” and “we cannot carry on like this” as the capital city of the province.

She said many people were talking about the water issues and the frail infrastructure, and urged the council to provide weekly updates on the ­situation.

“We need to emphasise how drastic the drought is. We are hiring water tankers to service the community, but would it not be more ­cost-effective to purchase our own tankers?” ­Lawrence asked.

ANC councillor Jabu Ngubo said she concurred with Lawrence, as “taxi drivers are using water like they just don’t care”.

She said she had seen taxi drivers and ­conductors using roadside standpipes to wash their vehicles during a recent drive to Edendale.

Ngubo suggested that the municipality remove the standpipes, as “houses in Edendale should have their own taps in their home” and there was no need for the roadside taps.

She added that although it may be difficult to obtain the R1,4 billion, the council should set aside money each year to “at least start working towards the goal”.

Fellow councillor TV Xulu said standpipe taps were an issue in the greater Edendale area — “as long as we have standpipes, we will lose millions of litres of water”.

“I can guarantee you that more than 50 households are illegally connected to those standpipes, which means they get water for free,” he said.

Xulu suggested that the council think about ­reducing the cost of installing water meters to households in greater Edendale, as most residents living there cannot afford the R3 000 to R4 000 to install the device themselves.

“With those prices, we are forcing the residents to steal water,” he said.

The high vacancy rate in the municipality’s electricity department also came under fire when Lawrence said she could not understand how the department was functioning.

Mayor Chris Ndlela added that he had never seen an organisation with a vacancy rate as high as at Msunduzi.

“It has been too long and too many vacancies. There needs to be a faster pace to fill these vacancies and in turn create employment,” he said.

Corporate services manager Mosa Molapo gave the assurance that the 5 800 vacancies would be filled soon. “There was a migration to a new structure recently, and we are positive that the vacancies will be filled,” she said.

Molapo said the filling of the posts was now dependent on the necessary financial structures.

“There is light at the end of the tunnel and we are working full steam ahead so that the Integrated Development Plan can be implemented.”

MEC: MUNICIPALITIES ARE NOT SPENDING ENOUGH — PAGE 2

• kailene.pillay@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  msunduzi municipality

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