Tarr, Nguba go on walkabout

2010-03-31 00:00

NEWLY appointed Msunduzi Mayor Mike Tarr and his deputy, Jabu Nguba, have hit the ground running barely a week into their new positions.

Keen to catch a glimpse of some of the problems faced by various municipal departments, which are often only read about in the media, Tarr and Nguba went on a walkabout yesterday to interact with employees at ground level.

Tarr said: “We’re not coming around to spy. We just want to see for ourselves what’s going on on the ground without the interference of gatekeepers.”

Starting off at the infrastructure services department on Mayor’s Walk, which houses the water, electricity and fleet management sections, Tarr and Nguba were told by a senior manager, who preferred not to be named, that the department is facing recent and long-term problems.

“The provincial intervention has been a real problem for us because we haven’t been able to place orders since [March 14]. Everything from repairs, batteries engine overhauls — you name it — has come to a standstill because we have to follow processes from the administrator and provincial task team,” he said.

The manager said the situation has actually worsened, not improved, over the past 10 days, and they are being unfairly castigated by the public.

He said a report has been drafted explaining all problems faced by the fleet department, and it also proposes solutions.

“Although we have identified the problems and brought solutions alongside them, they rely on money to get off the ground,” he said.

Tarr said he will take a look at the report so that he can recommend that solutions are speedily implemented.

The manager told Nguba that a senior staffer, who had been suspended for more than a year, is still receiving his full salary.

Tarr and Nguba were shocked at the poor state of some of the vehicles parked on the premises.

Bewildered at the sight of Tarr and Nguba, some of the workers were speechless. Shaking the hand of an employee who introduced himself as Zuma, Tarr caused some chuckles when he exclaimed: “Hawu, uMsholozi!”

Some of Tarr’s other observations at the workshop caused more laughter: “Eish, some of these vehicles look madala,” and “Admit it, if I gave you that vehicle you wouldn’t even say thank you.”

Tarr and Nguba were disturbed to hear that one compactor was 21 years old and should have been replaced 15 years ago.

A Mazda 323 that should have been scrapped 10 years ago is in such poor condition that only one door is lockable and the driver has to jump over the passenger seat to get in or out.

The next stop, following yesterday’s story in The Witness, was the South Road garden refuse site.

On site was the deputy municipal manager for community services, Zwe Hulane, who told Tarr and Nguba that the reason the city’s garden refuse sites are in such a bad state is that the TLB trucks needed to clear them have broken down and are waiting to be repaired at the workshops.

“We’ve had to borrow a TLB from the cemetery to try to clear backlogs at all garden refuse sites ... A lot of fleet vehicles are waiting to be fixed,” he said.

Process manager Pius Moseya said the municipality needs 15 compactors, two “cooka” trucks, four roll-on-roll-off trucks, one grab truck and four commercial/industrial trucks to service the entire city. Only five compactors are operational, and the rest have broken down.

Nguba said it is disturbing that people are still getting paid, even though no work is being done, as they do not have the necessary tools to perform.

Ward councillor Les Naidoo said the fire department spent five hours trying to douse flames at the dump site after it was set alight on Saturday. Firemen were still on site yesterday to monitor the situation.

Naidoo said he is pleased that Tarr and Ngubo had come to assess the situation, and suggested that the next step should be a meeting with administrator Johann Mettler, so that all councillors can convey their concerns to him.




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