Neglected and forgotten

2010-09-09 00:00

BISHOPSTOWE is 10 kilometres from the city hall, with all the amenities of an area 100 kilometres from anywhere.

Against our will, we were incorporated into the Msunduzi Municipality. Mike Sutcliffe assured everyone that communities would not be broken up, yet our century-old community was divided into three municipalities. We have farms and smallholdings that are partly in Msunduzi and partly in the adjacent municipality. I have no idea which municipality claims these areas’ rates or takes responsibility for their welfare. By long-standing association all three of the Bishopstowe “municipal” areas still operate as a single community, which can lead to complications with different rate tariffs and different bylaws from other local government structures.

Incorporating agricultural area­s into urban boundaries without a dedicated department or person to oversee our particular needs is both short-sighted and reprehensible. I am reminded of a dog chasing a car, and having caught it, having no clue what to do with it.

What amenities do we “enjoy” as ratepayers? Almost nothing. We have been asking for a bridge over the Duzi at the end of Grimthorpe Avenue since 1936. Many people have drowned crossing the low-level causeway when it is in flood. Sadly, most have been labourers whose only alternative to a trading store or access to the city would be a five or 10-kilometre walk. Many motorists from Glenwood and Eastwood use this causeway and gravel road to avoid the traffic congestion in Manning Avenue and Ohrtmann Road. No gravel road is designed for this increased traffic load.

Electricity is supplied by the Msunduzi Municipality to part of Bishopstowe, Eskom does the rest. Again, different tariffs.

Our roads are still under the provincial roads department, contrary to Local Government Ordinances which require the municipality to assume that role. As it is, the roads department only maintains district roads. All landowners maintain access to their properties, regardless of the length of the road. I am constantly assured that we are “on the list” for a bridge, but each year this bridge is at the bottom of the priority list. I am not sure how many more people must drown before it really is a priority.

A handful of properties receive water from the municipality, the rest of us rely on increasingly polluted river and borehole supplies. Remember, just 10 kilometres from the city hall.

The eastern approach on the Bishopstowe Road from Manning Avenue or Ohrtmann Road is one long corridor of refuse, wandering goats and pedestrians who are forced to walk on the road as verges, let alone pavements, are non-existent. School children from the informal settlements, Glenwood and Eastwood are in constant danger. This road has always been the route for the cane trucks, long before the advent of Eastwood, Glenwood and the vast sprawling informal settlements.

We do not have refuse collection either and we transport our refuse to the landfill site.

Our telephone cables are stolen three to four times a year. As computers are essential for business and personal reasons, this is frustrating and costly. Cellphone reception in many parts of Bishopstowe is hopeless. Vodacom has been assuring me for many years that it is going to erect a mast to fulfil its obligation as a service provider. No joy there either.

Despite the incorporation of rural areas into the municipality, our fire service does not have off-road fire engines. Fires are a constant worry for all of us, particularly the sugar-cane farmers. We suffer a number of veld fires started by poachers. They know the buck will be drawn to the new green shoots that sprout after a fire. This year thousands of tons of sugar cane have been lost to deliberate fires, never mind the theft of sugar cane that costs farmers in KwaZulu-Natal millions every year.

The ordinances, regulations and laws that apply to an agricultural area are yet to be incorporated into the municipal by-laws. Bylaws that are urban- based and urban biased, and not applicable to the agricultural are­a.

As ratepaying citizens of the Msunduzi Municipality, we surely have the right to some of the amenities most take for granted. Our hearts and our histories are part of Bishopstowe, and in spite of us, now part of the Msunduzi Municipality.

As a councillor, I have brought these issues up ad nauseum, and now ask, are we really part of the municipality or just handy for rates?

• Candy Seymour is ward councillor for Bishopstowe.

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