Concern over crematorium

2008-11-10 00:00

Breakdowns of the cremators at the Mountain Rise crematorium continue — and undertakers and affected community city residents are furious at the Msunduzi Municipality’s “dismissal” of their concerns.

It emerged at the meeting of the municipality’s executive committee (Exco) last Thursday that the new cremator has experienced a number of problems since 2006.

Explaining why his division under-spent by R1,1 million in the first quarter while the crematorium is beset with problems, the deputy municipal manager for community services and social equity, Zwe Hulane, conceded that the cremators have had problems and do not cremate bodies properly.

But Hulane said the municipality is planning to review the efficiency of the contractors who maintain the cremators.

The director of Msunduzi’s parks and recreation division, Steven Naick, confirmed on Friday that two cremators were broken, leaving only one working. He said residents need to understand that machines break down.

Naick said that latest breakdowns were caused by electrical problems. “We have three cremators. When one breaks down, the other works. People get impatient. The one which works is able to carry the load,” said Naick.

The cremators will be repaired in the next two weeks, he said.

However, undertakers and residents who use the crematorium say this is not a minor inconvenience, but a problem that has been going on for five years.

According to undertakers, at no time in the last five years have all three cremators been in working order at the same time.

The one that is currently working and which was installed at a cost of over R1 million, caught fire recently and was repaired. Undertakers say it had not worked properly since then and takes a long time to cremate a body.

They believe the problem lies with the municipality which, they claim, gets inexperienced contractors to do the maintenance.

The undertakers claim that there are experts who never get called in.

Recently a group of concerned locals worried about the state of the crematoriums took officials from the parks division to visit crematoriums in Durban.

Hindu priest Kenny Pillay said the officials were shown how these crematoriums are kept clean and properly maintained.

“All our efforts seem to have been a waste of time as what we said fell on deaf ears,” he said.

He said he has since written to municipal manager Rob Haswell, expressing unhappiness at the state of the crematorium. According to Pillay, the new cremator — the only one functioning — does not have proper facilities to carry out the Hindu rituals associated with cremations.

He said he hopes Haswell will heed their appeals and put an end to the crematorium’s problems.

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