‘Cities need funding’

2016-07-13 12:36
A waterfall of water cascades down Willowton Road. Msunduzi spokesperson Nqobile Madonda said the burst was on the Umgeni pipeline and that Msunduzi Municipality had notified the water authority. Passersby said the pipe had been leaking for over three hours yesterday. It had not been fixed after business hours and was still gushing into the evening.

A waterfall of water cascades down Willowton Road. Msunduzi spokesperson Nqobile Madonda said the burst was on the Umgeni pipeline and that Msunduzi Municipality had notified the water authority. Passersby said the pipe had been leaking for over three hours yesterday. It had not been fixed after business hours and was still gushing into the evening. (Ian Carbutt, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - The Msunduzi and eThekwini mayors, Chris Ndlela and James Nxumalo respectively, say that the most critical challenge faced by municipalities is the lack of funding from national government.

Discussing the State of South African Cities report for 2016 yesterday, Ndlela and Nxumalo both called on the government to find resources so local government could provide better services and reduce the number of service delivery protests.

Ndlela said Msunduzi needed to expedite the building and renovation of “desperately needed” infrastructure.

“There are a lot of constraints and we find that there are more needs than resources. We [municipalities] are sometimes treated like neglected stepchildren,” he said.

Ndlela added that communities and the different spheres of government played the “blame game”.

“Msunduzi has adopted the consolidate-and-advance policy, but we are battling to inculcate the culture that all services need to be paid for, and funding is always needed,” he said.

The State of South African Cities Report revealed that Msunduzi had reduced its water losses by more than half since 2014.

According to the statistics compiled by Stats SA, Msunduzi ranked the worst of all cities with 63% of its clean water going down the drain in 2014.

In April this year, The Witness reported that 25 to 30% of Msunduzi’s water was being lost through burst pipes.

However, the city’s water managers say they are trying their hardest to reduce that figure, cognisant that the province was in the grip of a severe ongoing drought.

The statistics revealed in the 2016 report were outdated and showed figures for 2011 and 2013, and the South African Cities Network was hopeful that the next report would have more recent statistics.

The network has launched the Open Data Almanac — an online systematic approach to collecting data from communities. The almanac is a full interactive data portal that will ultimately feed into cities’ requirements.

South African Cities Network CEO Sithole Mbanga said the conclusion of the report showed that cities had effectively driven local development, “but if cities were treated better, then development could have been better”.

He said that service delivery protests were “protests of frustration”, as cities had not transformed spatially.

“The poorer communities live far out and spend about 65% of their income on transport. Cities need more resources, and there is a need for more capability and accountability,” Mbanga said.

• kailene.pillay@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  msunduzi municipality

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