Rotting veggies turn market into a ‘pigsty’

2011-12-29 00:00

THE Msunduzi Municipality has opted to revert to an overtime system and deploy staff at the Pietermaritzburg market in Mkondeni to clean up what one agent described as a “pigsty” of rotting fruit and vegetables, which attracts large rats and clouds of flies.

The rubbish skip at the market started to overflow weeks before Christmas.

Municipal insiders said the problem had been exacerbated by the decision by management to cancel the contracts of 40 contract workers at the end of October, after they were taken on in the waste division that month.

They said the workers volunteered for October and November without pay because the municipality had promised them permanent jobs.

The source said the workers were responsible for clearing the skip at the market and garden refuse in and around the city.

Said an agent who operates at the market and who did not want to be named for fear of being victimised by municipal officials: “We have been reporting the unhygienic conditions at the market because we sell fresh produce, but all that we are told each time is that the trucks are broken down.”

The problem had become so bad that trucks delivering fresh produce were finding it difficult to negotiate the mounds of decomposing food that littered the yard.

“Even farmers who supply the market ask how they are supposed to bring their fresh produce into a place that smells like a pigsty, but the situation is out of our hands.”

The agent said that even when the skip was empty the municipal staff did not clear the mess around it, which attracted flies and rats.

If not controlled, he added, the rotting waste and the pests it attracted could become a health hazard.

Sources said that if the market were another business it would have been fined for the mess, but since it belonged to the municipality nothing was being done by the environmental health division.

Msunduzi Muncipality acting spokesperson Nqobile Madonda said: “Council experienced a challenge with specialised vehicles not being in working condition.

“The vehicles have been repaired and cleaning of the market will commence shortly.”

She said she could not comment on the issue of the 40 workers whose contracts had ended.

Madonda said the skip was cleared on Friday last week.

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