Community threatens to halt bridge construction

2019-07-24 06:00
Banda Road community members protesting outside the construction site last Thursday.PHOTO: lethiwe makhanya

Banda Road community members protesting outside the construction site last Thursday.PHOTO: lethiwe makhanya

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BANDA Road residents in Sweetwaters vowed to disrupt a local bridge construction project if their grievances are not attended to urgently.

The residents protested outside the construction site last Thursday, saying that they want to be addressed by the ward councillor.

The bridge, which is worth R20 million, is being constructed as a way of honouring the late SABC journalist Cubic Banda, who hailed from Sweetwaters.

Community members say they feel sidelined and undermined by the ward councillor, Sbusiso Mtshali, as the new service provider was never formally introduced to them.

They also say that only two people from the community were employed for this project.

Community members who spoke to Echo said they want the service provider to be introduced to them as a community and they want more community members to be employed.

“We want this bridge because it is part of development in our area, but we will not allow them to undermine us as community members.

“The only thing that the ward councillor told us is that the bridge tender has been awarded to a service provider; and that was in May. The service provider was never introduced to us, we just saw them on site.

“As a community, we deserve to know what is going on in our area,” said a resident who did not want to be named.

Another resident said their march was “just a warning” to the leaders of the community.

“If our demands are not met we are going to come back and we are going to shut down the construction site.

“There will be no bridge until our problems are addressed properly.

“We tried to arrange a meeting with the ward councillor to try and get answers but all that was unsuccessful because he did not give us the answers we were looking for,” he said.

Ward Councillor Mtshali disputed that the contractor was never introduced to the community, saying that a community meeting was called after the elections and that is when the contractor was introduced.

“What they are saying is not true and they know it.

“I arranged a meeting with the community for the contractor and the project to be formally introduced and the Department of Transport and traditional leadership were also present in that meeting,” said Mtshali.

“Regarding the issue of employment, we cannot manage to hire the whole unemployed community in Sweetwaters. The project requires less than 30 people, which is a very small number,” he said.

The councillor said he has also met with the community of the Nadi and Mpumuza areas who will also be using this bridge to get to Sweetwaters.

Mtshali said the project is expected to be finished in the next 10 months.

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