City needs a 5-year plan

2016-10-13 11:39
Some of the damaged infrastructure across the city that has been left unattended to for long periods of time.

Some of the damaged infrastructure across the city that has been left unattended to for long periods of time. (Ian Carbutt)

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The Msunduzi Municipality has no long-term plan to maintain and replace its infrastructure.

The city’s lack of foresight was revealed during a recent executive committee meeting where it came to light that an item detailing the lack of a five-year maintenance plan has remained on the agenda under outstanding matters since last year.

The report revealed that the city has a one-year infrastructure plan, but not a much-needed five-year plan.

The plan should detail which aspects of the city’s infrastructure need to be replaced and how urgent the upgrades are.

Infrastructure services general manager Sabatha Nomnganga told the executive committee that they could not explain the reasons behind the power out­ages plaguing the city without the plan.

“It is important to have a five-year plan in light of the fact that the city has such ageing infrastructure,” Nomnganga said.

He said the need for the plan was pointed out in the auditor-general’s report this year.

The report showed that a service provider had been appointed to draw up the plan, but also revealed that it would only be completed in the second quarter of the next financial year.

Nomnganga told the committee they had contracted a service provider to draw up the plan because understaffing was a “major issue, especially since the electricity sub-unit was massive”.

Last week The Witness reported that over R52 million in conditional grants meant for the upgrading of ageing infrastructure and construction of new houses for the poor in Msunduzi was taken back by the national government after the municipality failed to spend the money.

However, spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said of the R52 million, R27 million was budgeted for housing and had been transferred to another account and would still be used for housing developments.

The R25 million budgeted for the infrastructure upgrades, however, had to be returned to National Treasury.

Mafumbatha said the municipality had ordered equipment from China, to be paid for with the R52 million, but the equipment arrived “too late”. at the end of the financial year in June “and the money was taken away”.

Ratepayers have criticised the municipality, saying the money could have been used for identified upgrades if the long-term infrastructure plan was ready.

Msunduzi Rates Forum secretary Minnesh Parmanand said they were “totally unhappy” at the way in which the city was being run. He said many attempts to meet with new Mayor Themba Njilo had proved fruitless.

“We want to work with the municipality and we want to highlight the needs of the community,” he said.

Parmanand said it was “shocking” that the province’s capital city did not have a long-term infrastructure plan in place. He called on the city to include ratepayers’ associations in discussions on the plan.

“There are so many things needed in our city. If we get to sit down with the managers and discuss this with them, we can provide valuable input toward the infrastructure plan,” Parmanand said.

Trish Collocott of the Zwartkop Valley Ratepayers’ Association said the city was “ricocheting” from one disaster to another.

“Everyone is just running around patching holes. If you look at the state of the roads and streetlights, you will see we are paying for a service that we are not receiving,” she said.

Collocott said she could not understand how the city was being managed without such a plan in a place.

DA caucus leader Sibongiseni Majola said they had been raising concerns about infrastructure maintenance for the past few years.

“Infrastructure is an asset of the municipality and depreciates over time. It has to be replaced and that is the reason we need to have an integrated infrastructure plan with the priority list of projects for up to 50 years,” he said.

Majola said the infrastructure plan must ensure that sufficient funds are allocated for the maintenance of ageing infrastructure to protect those assets.

“This will bring a balance between installing new infrastructure and maintaining existing assets,” he said.

IFP caucus leader Dennis Ntombela said it was “very disappointing and disturbing” to know that the municipality did not have an infrastructure plan.

He said infrastructure was the “core business” in service delivery and having no plan meant there was no proper service.

“People are waiting for houses, roads and electricity, and we do not have a plan. I am perturbed by this news,” Ntombela said. He also lambasted the municipality for appointing a consulting service provider to draw up the five-year plan. “This is wasting money and shows a lack of administration,” he said.

Majola supported outsourcing the plan, saying “outsourcing may be a better idea” with the delayed action from the municipality.

The municipality was sent queries on the matter on Monday, but failed to respond.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  msunduzi municipality

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