Misleading article about municipality

2009-02-18 00:00

The last time I wrote to The Witness in response to an article by Derek Alberts, I made a plea to him to verify his stories before presenting them to the public as facts. Clearly, this has fallen on deaf ears as he has once again gone on to mislead the public about a party held at The Oval, which, according to him, was booked under the name of the Msunduzi Municipality. He further wonders whether such a party was not funded by the same municipality. He goes on to conclude that Pietermaritzburg is the “City of Filth”, having published a rather misleading photograph.

The correct facts are that a city resident contacted the Parks Department to make a booking for the use of one of the city’s facilities for a party. This request was granted and would have been as any other in the past. This was a private party that had nothing to do with the municipality.

It is generally the responsibility of the event organiser to clean up the venue after the function and this is always clearly communicated with any person or body who is making bookings for any of our facilities. This was done by the event organisers on Saturday after their party.

One therefore fails to find a link between a party and the city’s failure to maintain high levels of cleanliness. For Alberts to continue lambasting the municiality’s leadership and officials for problems at the landfill site, [the] fleet and what he says is the unhappiness of everyone, is rather unfortunate.

This clearly says that the agenda is not so much about informing the city’s residents and ratepayers, but that of tarnishing the image of the council.

When residents make bookings for any of our facilities, and if they are available on the day requested, they are granted access. The decision by those individuals to be unruly or to leave the facility in a mess cannot be attributed to the municipality. The best the municipality can do is not to release their deposit, which is payable together with the hire charge, and not to allow them future use of any of our facilities.

What Alberts has also not indicated is that the pile of bottles, which he photographed, was removed on the same day … it is therefore clear that this criticism was not just about litter. In fact, he goes on to raise questions about the “proposal to tap methane gas, combust it for fuel, generate revenue and also help the environment”. He further asks “whatever happened to the eminently common sense proposal that advocated a homogeneous management of the dump?”

Why these questions are camouflaged in the manner [in which] they have [been], is rather baffling.

Just for the record, the Renewable Energy Project has had its environmental impact assessment (EIA) completed and a record of decision (Rod) is awaited from the Department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs. After the scoping report was completed, a further request was made for an air- quality study and a noise study to be conducted. These were done and the outcomes were favourable to the project. It is anticipated that this [Rod] will be issued by the end of March this year and Ener-G Systems (the company appointed for this project) will commence construction immediately thereafter.

If Alberts wants to be a commentator, then he must please check his facts prior to making any conclusive statements (this is not the first time that I am making this point). Like any other journalist, when there are questions you have, then ask. If this was not part of a well- orchestrated agenda to discredit our municipality, then basic journalism principles would have been followed.

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