Msunduzi to tackle downtown anarchy

2013-05-13 00:00

THE chaos in downtown Pietermaritzburg — resulting from years of poor traffic and by-law enforcement — has reached a point of anarchy.

Now businesses are turning on each other as the transgressions of one impact on the livelihoods of others.

Streets and pavements have become storage and dumping grounds for some businesses, which even take up entire roads as despatch zones. This has seen some streets, including Hoosen Haffajee, Retief and Pietermaritz, becoming no-go zones, blocked by up to six large trucks lining either side of the road.

Motorists and pedestrians dodge wooden pallets stacked up on pavements and the sides of the road, and forklifts driving up and down the road and sidewalks.

A shop owner in Retief Street, who did not want to be named, said there had been at least three accidents in the past month involving forklifts.

“As far as I know it is illegal for them to be on the road, yet … the traffic cops do nothing.

“It was bad enough when they took over the pavements, now they are taking over the roads,” he said.

The Witness has learnt that one complaint has been laid against a major wholesale business for allegedly dumping of rotting produce in Hoosen Haffajee Street.

Surrounding shop owners say that not only is it a health hazard, but the stench and the flies are chasing away their customers.

The acting head of Msunduzi’s environmental health unit, Clive Anthony, confirmed that summons had been served and the matter was due to be heard in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court on May 29.

At least two businesses are sending lawyers letters to alleged transgressors and the municipality.

They want to know why the municipality is failing to uphold its own policies and by-laws.

Others are considering getting together to see what they can do to put an end to the lawlessness.

They are hoping that it will not mean being in opposition with the municipality, but rather working with officials and councillors to restore compliance.

Msunduzi spokesperson Brian Zuma said this would happen through the Pietermaritzburg Urban Renewal Programme (Purp).

Meanwhile, Anthony heads a task team that is working on enforcement and the city clean-up.

He said the team was working on the area between Boshoff Street and Albert Luthuli Road and between Pietermaritz and Jabu Ndlovu streets.

Once this was done, Anthony said, the team would move downtown. The plan was not to wave a big stick, but to get the co-operation of citizens.

Zuma said that while keeping the city clean was the responsibility of everyone, the municipality was mindful that it had the responsibility to enforce the law.

“This is why we are beefing up the public safety unit in order to increase the capacity for enforcement.

“Violation of traffic and town planning by-laws will no longer be tolerated. Enforcement will be a critical aspect of Purp.”

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