Old towns to get a revamp

2011-03-25 07:33

Dilapidated towns in Gauteng such as Vereeniging, Germiston and Krugersdorp will soon get a make-over, local government MEC Humphrey Mmemezi said yesterday.

The plan would also entailed revitalising Thembisa, until it resembled “Sandton or Soweto”.

“We are going to inject funds and invite the private sector,” he told reporters in Boksburg.

“Even old towns would become more attractive for residents and for business.”

The process of incorporating Nokeng, Kungwini and Metsweding into Tshwane was also on track.

Mmemezi said threats of protest action against the move were “ill-informed”. The Metsweding Demarcation Forum had threatened further protests over what it described as an “unconstitutional” merger.

The forum’s main objection had been lack of consultation with residents. He however said the government and ANC had held extensive discussions with locals.

The main problem facing the Tshwane merger was finances, Mmemezi said.

The merger was considered a “pilot project” for the Gauteng government – part of a long-term plan to have only five municipalities with two metros.

“To have a number of municipalities, you are not able to deliver and not able to help the communities.”

The number of municipalities has already been reduced from 15 to 12. All four West Rand municipalities would be merged by 2016.

Plans were also afoot to incorporate Balfour, the Mpumalanga town plagued by service delivery protests last year, into Gauteng.

The MEC was briefing the media after mayors reported to him on their terms in office, which would end in May.

Gauteng municipalities were “doing well” and delivering services to “all” residents in the province, Mmemezi said.

“We think municipalities of Gauteng are doing very well. In terms of providing basic services to the community. Indeed we are pleased to report that every household is getting basic services that they deserve. Even illegal landowners.”

There had been a several service delivery protests in the province in 2009 and last year, strikes by municipal workers, and a public outcry over billing problems in the City of Johannesburg.

Mmemezi said municipal accounts in Johannesburg were “improving almost on a monthly basis”.

The Lesedi municipality, which had Heidelberg as its seat, needed roads and stormwater drains. About R240 million was required to reseal or rebuild about 120km of road.

In the last five years the municipality had upgraded its electricity infrastructure for R35 million.

The Randfontein municipality received an unqualified audit for the last two years and revenue collection had improved.

A comprehensive report from each mayor would be released soon.

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