Residents lose faith in local municipality

2018-10-24 06:03
Some of the local children swimming at a hole last week that had been dug by Msunduzi officials where there was a burst pipe.

Some of the local children swimming at a hole last week that had been dug by Msunduzi officials where there was a burst pipe.

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ALMOST every street in France, Pietermaritzburg, has a river of water running from either a burst pipe or a valve that needs replacing, and residents say some of the leaks date back to January.

Some community members say they had stopped reporting leaks to Msunduzi Municipality because they never get fixed.

“What’s the point of phoning the call centre because no one bothers to come and attend to the leak? It’s like they don’t care,” said one of the residents.

Two weeks ago a team from Msunduzi did come out to attend one of the major leaks where water was gushing out in gallons, but they left without repairing it after they dug up a huge hole on the side of the road.

The area was not cordoned off and last week some of the local children used the deep pool of water that formed there for a cooling swim during the scorching hot days.

France resident Siyabonga Ngcobo said politicians always preached about water conservation but the municipality did nothing to play its part.

“It’s been about two weeks since they dug up that hole and instead of fixing the leak the municipality is cutting off the water supply every evening,” said Ngcobo.

He said it was normal for water to leak for months in France and most residents did not even bat an eyelid because they did not pay for water.

“The problem is that these leaks are damaging the roads because the water runs like rivers for months so you start getting potholes everywhere because they also don’t get fixed,” he said.

According to the City’s financial recovery strategy, which was tabled at a recent council meeting, Msunduzi water services was being operated at a deficit.

The municipality is also grappling with a challenge of ageing infrastructure which resulted in frequent interruptions of the water supply.

“Even though the municipality is experiencing challenges of service delivery due to ageing infrastructure, the budget allocation for maintenance is relatively low and insufficient to stabilise or prevent further deterioration of municipal assets,” read the document.

The municipality had lost no less than 29% of its annual water stock over the past six years.

DA councillor Ross Strachan said the problem was not unique to France as water leaks were left unattended for months all over the city.

He said reinstatements of burst pipes were left bare and open, causing damage to vehicles and posing potential hazards in communities.

“Infrastructure services have an allocated budget for repairs and maintenance of 1.36% of our entire budget, whereas per legislative regulations it’s meant to be eight percent.

“This is to ensure efficient, effective maintenance of our infrastructure and ultimately impact on service delivery outages or maintenance,” he said.

Strachan said Msunduzi had run into a “brick wall” of collapse as none of the departments could function effectively due to the cost-containment policies implemented and the irregular timing of the drastic budget adjustments, which had directly affected service delivery.

Executive committee member Sibongiseni Majola said water leaks and theft were some of the reasons Msunduzi was not generating revenue from water.

“Water is one of our trade services but we are letting millions of litres soak into the ground through leaks and this is not a new thing, the auditor-general has been raising the issue of water losses for years,” he said. “We know there is a problem of ageing infrastructure but nothing is being done to replace it.”

Msunduzi had not responded to inquiries at the time of going to press.


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