Msunduzi: More money from govt will mean better services

2008-05-25 00:00

How are ordinary Pietermaritzburg residents going to benefit from the municipality gaining metro status? This was the most-asked question on the Witness website after Friday’s front page story that the Municipal Demarcation Board (MDB) has proposed metro status for Msunduzi.

City manager Rob Haswell spelt out some of the benefits, the most of important of which is extra funding.

This will mean the council won’t have to juggle limited funds to sort out one area while other pressing needs have to wait.

Category B municipalities, which has been Msunduzi’s status, generally have a capital budget of R200 to R300 million, while metros receive billions, he said.

There will be money to provide the city with a bigger airport in which jets can land easily, establish a bigger produce market, build more cemeteries, improve sanitation and the transport system, and to provide a revamped theatre and modern indoor arena.

According to Haswell, Durban’s metro status is why it is able to undertake major projects such as the uShaka Marine World, a new stadium and a new airport.

There will be less pressure on rates, said Haswell, adding that this does not mean rates will be reduced, but rather that there will no longer be an imperative to push for high rate increases.

“In the past, the city was almost totally dependent on rates, [but in a metro] there will be less burden on the rates income and the city will no longer have to borrow money … for capital projects, as money for these projects will come from national government.”

Residents will also benefit from better municipal services. Referring to regular complaints of burst water pipes and sewer problems, Haswell said the municipality will be in a far better position to deal with infrastructure backlogs.

The Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business expressed delight at the city gaining metro status, but said that it is concerned that the boundaries of the city were not extended.

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