Decision on new West Rand metro to be made by end of June

2015-06-10 21:21

Johannesburg - Residents of the West Rand will find out whether the Mogale City, Randfontein, Merafong and Westonaria municipalities will be merged into one metropolitan municipality by the end of June, the West Rand district municipality said on Wednesday.

"By the end of June we will have an indication whether the West Rand will become a metro or not," spokesperson Refentse Mangope said.

He said the district had held successful public meetings between June 2 and June 5 in all four municipalities, with two in Mogale City and Merafong respectively, and one in Randfontein and Westonaria.

Mangope said most residents were keen on the merger, as it would assist individual municipalities struggling with service delivery issues to be attended to through a more streamlined channel of local governance.

"We did come across complaints from a tiny minority, but after explaining to them they understood."

Mangope said the district, as well as each municipality, had sent a report on the proposed merger to the Municipal Demarcation Board (MDB) after the deadline of the meetings, which was June 6.

'Will result in improved standards'

He said the MDB had 14 days to make a decision on the matter, which would be communicated to the parties involved.

"A single West Rand municipality is desirable for integrated development planning and a stronger tax base for the West Rand communities...

"Sharing and redistributing of financial and administrative resources will result in improved standards, efficiencies, thus rendition of quality services to residents of West Rand," Mangope said.

If the entire West Rand shared one financial basket, the region would save on costs on the procurement of services and would pay fewer political and administrative salaries, he said. 

'Negative effect on quality of life'

Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance says residents are against the proposed merger.

"During the meetings it became clear that residents were deeply concerned over the effect the formation of a metro would have on service delivery, and that it would have a negative effect on their quality of life," DA MPL Solly Msimanga said.

He accused the municipality officials of creating confusion around meeting times and venues for the public meetings, which resulted in a lack of participation by residents.

He said despite this, it was clear that residents did not want the proposed merger.

"...The DA collected and handed over almost 8 000 submissions to the Municipal Demarcation Board in response," he said.

The merger would result in a lower quality of life for residents, tariff rates and existing service delivery issues would rise.

He suggested other legislative avenues which could be explored to help build capacity in under-performing municipalities, avoiding performing municipalities being financially drained.

Read more on:    local government

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