Officials don’t seem to care, say councillors

2010-01-07 00:00

FOLLOWING yesterday’s front-page story regarding the filthy state of the city, The Witness contacted various ward councillors to give comment about the difficulties they faced in their wards.

Ward 31 councillor Manilal Inderjit — whose ward includes the areas of Northdale, Newholmes and Raisethorpe fall — said it is about time the municipality did something about the state of disrepair that has befallen the city.

“It’s long overdue. I don’t see why it has been allowed to get to this stage,” he said.

Inderjit said it is a constant battle to get the relevant municipal officials to take him seriously. Countless attempts to get hold of acting district horticulturalist Shassan Amoo have failed, said Inderjit.

“I’ve been asking Amoo for [the clean-up] programme and he simply doesn’t respond. Parks and recreation manager Steven Naick is another one who doesn’t return calls. It all boils down to incompetent officials, and councillors have to bear the brunt,” he said.

Inderjit said in past instances where refuse removal had ground to a halt, he has had to use his own truck to go around collecting rubbish at 6 am on Saturdays.

He said he has even had to give people his personal grass cutters so they could cut unmaintained verges and has even roped in ward residents for clean-up campaigns.

Ward 37 councillor Sandy Lyne, who oversees the biggest ward, which includes areas such as Ashburton, Lynnfield Park and Hayfields, said some residents in her ward have resorted to maintaining the verges themselves.

“If they don’t, they won’t get done, but they’re getting fed-up now because they’re paying rates. I get many complaints,” she said.

Lyne said they had discussed the issue at last year’s community services department’s end-of-year function.

“I said to [the department’s deputy municipal manager Zwe] Hulane that we hoped we would see an improvement. [Officials] are aware of the problem but don’t seem to be able to put a competent plan in place,” she said.

Lyne said there is no way of keeping managers accountable and getting them to do what is required and councillors are unable to tell them how to do their jobs.

Ward 32 councillor Patrick Moon, who handles the Woodlands area, said they battle to get the relevant officials to ensure that the area is kept clean.

All they asked for is for the verges to be cut, refuse to be collected and the area to be maintained, but officials do not seem to listen, he said.

“They’re always saying there’s a shortage of staff and there’s not enough tractors, but this is a poor excuse. I actually feel that each councillor should be given a certain amount of people who will fall under a task team to clean their area,” he said.

Moon said they almost had a march on their hands but prevented it by holding a community meeting where residents were given the opportunity to give their suggestions with regard to keeping their area clean.

Ward 27 councillor Judy Lawrence, who oversees part of the CBD, said whenever people complain she takes it up with the relevant officials.

“But there’s no proper long-term plan, instead they resort to crisis management,” she said.

Lawrence said officials can be blamed to a certain point, but workers and residents also need to realise that the city is theirs and they need to take pride in it.

“Maybe we’re failing in educating people enough when it comes to littering and dumping,” she said.

Acting Mayor Mervyn Dirks said the public must hold their elected representatives responsible, and they in turn must play their oversight role by holding officials and workers accountable.

He said he will monitor the clean-up programme and urged residents to do the same and then give feedback.

• The clean-up programme will be printed in tomorrow’s Witness.

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